This soup is so easy to make, so tasty, and so healthy!
This is a fairly simple recipe to execute, but the way the pieces go together really blew me away. Here’s where I will try to explain why it had such a profound effect on me.
When I made the Chicken Ropa Viejo, I naturally ate some of it. The taste is terrific, but I have to admit that the leanness of the chicken breast puts it ever so slightly on the dry side. This isn’t an issue, since I expect to enjoy it with a slew of different things (like guacamole, salsa, and so on). But, I did notice.
The mofongo recipe that follows technically doesn’t need to have any meat in it. It can be seen as sort of a garlic mashed potatoes, with plantains in place of potatoes. I tried some before I mixed in the chicken, and it was tasty…but also pasty: the starch of the plantains made this inevitable.
So, it was a surprise to find that mixing the two together actually improved both. The starchiness of the mofongo seemed to bind to the chicken and provide the moisture that it (somewhat) lacked. And, the savoriness of the chicken elevated the plantains beyond where they would have been on their own.
It actually gets better. While this chicken mofongo is terrific as-is, it also takes very well to salsa, guacamole, sour cream…and I can honesty see rolling some up in a tortilla and having it that way.
As a side note, I understand now why mofongo recipes always call for green plantains. One of the plantains I bought ripened, and seriously tasted just like a banana. The sweetness would have been distracting.
Now, the part I’m not so thrilled about. I’m baffled as to why Weight Watchers says that 1 plantain is 10 points, whereas bananas are 0 points. The carbs (31 to 27) are similar, as are the calories (110 to 90), and the nutritional value is comparable. I would have expected this to weigh in significantly lighter than Weight Watchers says it is.
Ropa Vieja is typically done with beef. This is the chicken part of my Chicken Mofongo, but it can certainly be used for other awesome things like tacos, burritos, or just eating straight out of the bowl.
This recipe is also a rare “Absolute 0” recipe, which means that it’s 0 Weight Watchers points, regardless of how much you have: everything in this recipe is a 0-point ingredient, so help yourself!
This is one of my favorite things to make. I can’t claim credit for the recipe, since it’s based on Ina Garten’s fantastic Spanakopita recipe. Other than substituting healthy ingredients wherever possible, one big change was adding garlic. Wow, did this add to the taste! It’s almost like eating garlic bread with spinach on it.
I’m so glad I didn’t decide to make this as a white chicken chili. To do that, I would have had to leave out two of my favorite things in a chili: chilies (duh) and tomatoes. Besides being ridiculously healthy, it’s also pretty and very tasty.
I ground my own chicken from breast meat, leaving in the little bit of fat that came with them. It’s really negligible…something on the order of a 97%/3% mix, but I think it helps with the sizzle.
I also decided to try a quick prep of the dried mayocoba beans. Typically, they’re soaked overnight, then boiled for a long time to soften. I found that I can achieve the same results in 30 minutes using a pressure cooker and enough stock to cover the beans, plus a few inches. The beans weren’t totally soft, which is what I wanted: the cooking process in the chili would finish the job.
Also, in my recent penchant for shortcuts, I decided not to devote much time to the tomatoes, and instead went with the canned variety.
This is not a very spicy soup…it’s intended for normal people who don’t want their faces burned off by the heat.
When some people want to thicken a soup, they add flour or cornstarch. Others might add milk or cream. I prefer to add more of the main ingredient: I use probably double the amount of mushrooms here compared to what you’ll see in a “normal” recipe. The sheer volume makes the soup thick without adding anything that’s bad for you. Best of all, it adds even more mushroom flavor.
I went heavy on the garlic in this recipe because I wanted to be able to taste it. This is still a very mushroom-forward dish, but the roasted garlic notes are unmistakable. Use half as much garlic if you want the garlic to be more subtle.
Chicken Tikka Masala is typically made with chicken thighs, which is how I always made it before becoming more health-conscious. But, the flavors of the tikka sauce are so good that I didn’t notice the difference between the thigh and the healthier chicken breast.
I’m so happy with how this turned out, but part of me is disappointed that I couldn’t do this as a 0 Weight Watchers point recipe. The only two things contributing points this recipe are: a small amount of light butter to sauté the ginger and garlic; a scant amount of oil was needed to grill the chicken; and, skim milk is needed to provide a small amount of creaminess. The milk wasn’t entirely necessary, but removing it still didn’t get me to 0 Weight Watchers points per serving, so I left it in (4 points for butter and 1 point for oil / 6 servings).
This recipe isn’t as hard to make as it might seem. You can do the marinade the night before, and you can just buy the cauliflower rice if you want to save the time there. By the way, I didn’t season the rice because I wanted the Tikka to stand out.
As prepared, this is 216 calories per serving (6 servings) and loaded with protein (25 g), potassium (758 mg), and vitamin C (85% of your RDA).
I’ve had fun stripping out what makes a dish heavy to create plates of food that have a microscopic point value. But, sometimes, I really, really just want to have something hearty. The 4 points for an 8 ounce bowl of Beef Bourguignon is about as light as you can get it without removing something that makes it taste so good. But, I lightened it up a bit by using no extra oil (I cooked everything in rendered bacon fat), no flour (it thickened up enough on its own), and Skinny Girl red wine. Delicious, and I don’t have to feel bad about eating it. Only 251 calories per serving, with only 6g of fat and 27g of protein.
As a second generation Italian (pronounced “Eye-talian”), Pesto sauce is practically in my blood. The big issue I’ve always had is how much oil is usually used: a jar of pesto from the supermarket that’s separated will be half-full with just the oil. I worked on using less oil, which works somewhat, but still doesn’t take care of the root issue: there’s still a ton of calories in oil.
But, this treatment fixes that. I remember seeing a recipe years ago where someone used stock to replace oil, and I decided to try that here. It works, though you don’t have that clingy luxuriousness that oil brings. But, if you noticed that first line above, that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make: regular pesto is a staggering 9 Weight Watchers points per 2 ounces, and even reduced fat pesto is 4 points.
Besides the stock, I also shaved off some points using almonds (5 points), which are lighter than most other nuts (8 points for pine nuts and most others). Note that using reduced fat grated parmesan doesn’t change the point value (2 points vs 5 for regular cheese), but it does greatly affect the taste! Freshly-grated parmesano reggiano cheese really makes this pesto sing.
More fun with pesto: you can replace the greens with just about anything. See the Recipe Notes after the recipe for some suggestions.
Baba Ganoush is one of those rare recipes that’s incredibly healthy without having to make any adjustments.