Sunday, September 6, 2009


Okay, I'll admit that's a cheesy title, but I just couldn't resist. When you're hungry and your stomach is already filled with air, it has no place to go except your head. Having succeeded in completing my first week back OP (on program--specifically, Weight Watchers) with a payoff of minus 4.4 pounds at the scale, I was not about to backslide with a BBQ to mark summer's end. Instead of the requisite salads laden with mayonnaise nestled next to the shiny, sweet bacon-strewn baked beans and the tangy, smoked sweetness of pulled pork fighting for space next to grill-marked hot dogs and hamburgers, I opted for a Middle Eastern-inspired meal with an emphasis on freshness, an abundance of produce, and figure-friendly protein.

Thanks to Cook the Books, an online foodie book club that combines two of my passions, cooking and reading, I was introduced to a wonderful book, The Language of Baklava M by Diana Abu-Jabar. My copy is dog-earred and well used. The author's dad, the inimitable Bud, has opened my eyes (and mouth) to new flavors. Bud's incredible grilled chicken makes its way onto my menu planner once or twice each month. It was a given that this grilled chicken would be the star of our Labor Day celebration.

Instead of fat-laden chips and dip, I made hummus (again using Bud's recipe) and served it with carrot sticks, pita, and a selection of whole wheat crackers. I usually make Bud's rice with pine nuts and cinnamon to accompany the grilled chicken, but, hey, it IS a holiday, so I relented and made some roasted red potatoes with garlic, rosemary, and olive oil.

Since we eat a salad nearly every night, I wanted a special salad with a Middle Eastern flair and turned to Bud's recipe for Fattoush. First off, I just love the name. It rolls deliciously off your tongue and saying it I become 5 years old, trying out a naughty word.

If you've ever eaten panzanella, an Italian bread and tomato salad, you know how delicious those simple ingredients can be, particularly after the dressing soaks into them. Fattoush, which includes tomatoes, scallions, red pepper, romaine, cucumbers, herbs, and pita chips, has a more complex flavor, but is still a simple salad at heart. But it is visually stunning. I generally don't save leftover salad, but this is one that improves after sitting in the fridge overnight. With some sliced leftover chicken, it was a delightful lunch the next day.

You don't have to wait until you're making a whole Middle Eastern meal to enjoy fattoush. I'm sure it would be just as tasty with a hamburger or grilled salmon. You can get in your daily dose of veggies and it's low in calories. The dressing is made from heart-healthy olive oil with a squeeze of lemon and some salt and pepper. A large salad--enough for 4-6--uses just 1 1/2 loaves of pita.

And then there's the sound of it! Fa-tooosh! Fa-tooosh! Sorry, I just can't help myself.

Friday, September 4, 2009


I'll be the first to admit that a plateful of brown food is not the most photogenic food shot, even with the token side of broccoli. But don't let that stop you from trying these two delicious low-calorie dishes.

If you're a regular reader, you know that dark meat rules in our cabin in the woods. Next to the stockpile of pork loins in my freezer are packages of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. As an aside, if you are a fan of this part of the chicken, learn from my experience and buy them in Shoprite as opposed to Price Chopper. Shoprite does a far better job of removing the fat than Price Chopper does.

Tonight's entree is low in fat and high in fiber. It's a way to have what's good about the taste of fried chicken without the fried part. The corn cake side dish is incredibly low calorie for a generous serving and is the perfect accompaniment to chicken. Rounded out with a tossed salad and some broccoli, it was a satisfyingly delicious Weight Watcher's dinner for a mere 7 points.

The recipe for the chicken is from WW's New Complete Cookbook.

Makes 4 servings - 3 WW points per serving
2 tbs orange juice (I had some navel oranges and juiced these)
2 tbs Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup whole wheat cracker crumbs (I used Kellogg's multi-grain crackers)
1 tbs grated orange zest
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
4 (3 oz) skinless, boneless chicken thighs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; spray a nonstick baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, mustard, and salt. On a sheet of wax paper, combine the cracker crumbs, orange zest, shallot, and pepper.

Brush both sides of the chicken with the mustard mixture, then dredge in the crumbs, pressing the crumbs to both sides so they adhere. (I like to refrigerate for a half hour before baking)

Place the chicken on the baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Turn over and bake another 15-20 minutes. You may want to do what I did and make a double batch.

The recipe for the corn cakes was suggested by one I found on the Weight Watchers' website, but I didn't have fresh corn so I substituted canned white corn. I didn't have any red pepper, so I just omitted it.

Makes 4 servings, 3 corn cakes per serving.

2 egg whites
1 egg yolk
1 can white corn
3 scallions, chopped
salt and pepper
2 tbs all purpose flour

Whip the egg whites until glossy, but not stiff.

Beat the egg yolk with a fork, then add to the corn. Mix in the scallions, salt, and pepper, then the flour.

Fold in the egg whites.

Spray a nonstick skillet with nonstick spray over medium high heat. Using a 1/8 cup measure, measure out 6 corn cakes. Do NOT press down. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until bottom has browned. Turn over carefully and cook for 3-5 minutes on the other side, until browned.

The corn cakes may be held in a 200 degree oven until you are ready to serve them.

I can guarantee that we'll be eating this meal at least bi-weekly. The sweetness of the orange juice combined with the slightly sweet Kellogg's wheat cracker crumbs worked beautifully with the Dijon mustard. This crust made the chicken thighs even moister than usual. The corn cakes, while not the same as my corn fritter recipe, were almost souffle-like. The scallions worked well with the corn to produce a tasty side dish.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


The Food of Love was born in May 2008, a product of both my love for cooking and writing. Over the ensuing 15 months, I've added some wonderful friends from the food blogging stratosphere to my life. On the negative side of the spreadsheet, I've also added a bit of girth to my no-longer-girlish figure. And so, as I've done in the past, I've returned to Weight Watchers. But this time, it's official. I've joined online to use the e-Tools and I've returned to the once a week meeting. Seems I need to pay and make public my largesse--or is that largeness--in order to have the program work for me. I considered putting The Food of Love on hiatus, but I'd miss my readers and the opportunity to capture my thoughts in writing. So...we interrupt our regularly scheduled program to bring you the new Food of Love "lite." In the next few months I will be focusing on good food that has been made more healthy. I have an army of Weight Watcher cookbooks, Cooking Light magazine, and my own knowledge of how to substitute and replace to assist me.

If you're a regular reader, you know that I always have a few of those pork loins in my freezer. Last month they were on sale for $0.99 a pound, so I stocked up. This simple Weight Watcher recipe relies on two of my favorite flavor enhancers: fresh rosemary and garlic. Accompanying this flavorful herbed pork loin are roasted sweet potato wedges, which are also brought to life with fresh rosemary. Rounding out the meal was steamed broccoli and a tossed salad with red onion, tomatoes, and cukes.

Rosemary and Garlic Grilled Pork Loin
4 servings
5 WW points per serving

1 pound(s) lean pork tenderloin, use one whole loin
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 medium garlic clove(s), crushed
2 Tbsp rosemary, fresh
1/2 tsp table salt
1 tsp black pepper

Place pork on a large sheet of plastic wrap. In a small bowl, mix together oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper, crushing rosemary slightly with a spoon as you mix; spread mixture over pork, covering entire surface. Wrap loin tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour (and up to overnight).
Prepare grill for medium-hot indirect cooking or preheat oven to 425°F.
Remove plastic wrap and place pork on grill. Grill, turning occasionally, until a meat thermometer inserted in center reads 160°F, about 25 minutes. Or indoors, place tenderloin in a shallow roasting pan and roast until internal temperature reaches 160°F, about 20 minutes. (Note: Pork loin can be pink and juicy inside and be fully cooked, but it is important that the internal temperature be at least 160°F.)
Remove pork from grill or oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Yields about 3 ounces of pork per serving.

Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges
4 servings
2 WW points per serving

2 large sweet potato(es), washed and patted dry
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp table salt

1/4 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1 item(s) rosemary sprig, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Cut each potato into 8 lengthwise wedges and place on a nonstick baking sheet. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with salt and dried rosemary. Roast for 15 minutes; toss and roast until potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes more.
Spoon potato wedges onto a serving plate and garnish with fresh rosemary. Yields 4 wedges per serving.

Taste Notes
This delicious meal "cost" me a mere 8 points (5 for the entree, 2 for the starch, and 1 for the vinegarette I used on my tossed salad), a true bargain and one I hope will result in less of me at Saturday's weigh in.