I know– it’s my own fault. But it was worth it.
I just returned from a wonderful week in Maui with my husband, children (they are still my children, even if they are legally adults) and father. When I look out my office window at slushy snow under dismal skies, I close my eyes and see spinner dolphins leap and turn — just because they can; my son stumble from the sea, exhausted but triumphant after a day of surfing; my daughter’s sun-kissed face glowing in the candlelight of Mama’s Fish House, where we celebrated her brand new graduate school degree; my Dad in his lai, hamming it up for my camera; and my husband’s sweet face, so close to mine I can hear his breath, as we stand hand in hand watching the sun set over the water.
In addition to these treasured memories, I seem to have brought home a couple of new pounds around my middle. Apparently, that is what happens when you drink an extra glass of wine every night and keep sticking your fork in everyone’s desserts.
So now it is time for me to lose those new pounds, along with a few old ones that have been hanging around too long. To do so, I turn to the one time-proven method that truly aids weight loss. Seriously, no matter what your eating plan– low carb, low fat, paleo, high protein, Weight Watchers or any of the gazillion other diets out there– this one thing has been proven to be more effective than almost any other: keep a food diary. Record every morsel that goes in your mouth. For me, that includes all those tiny spoonfuls we taste as we develop recipes, because they add up. I am using an app called LoseIt! and tracking calories. Ebo, who also put on a few, is using the Men’s Weight Watcher’s plan, so he has to count points. Either way, we are completely accountable for every thing that goes in our mouths. And that makes you think a whole lot about what you are eating– much more than if you were to follow a diet but not log what you eat, because then it is easy to dismiss the little tastes of this and that.
This Pasta Fagioli is a great dish when you want to lose weight. A bowl has only 279 calories, and it is hearty enough to feel like a meal. I can keep portion size containers of it in the freezer and microwave it for lunch. A bowl of the soup and a salad full of crunchy chopped vegetables makes a satisfying dinner– one I will count on to help banish those new pounds before my tan fades.
The soup thickens as it stands: add water or broth as needed.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomato with basil, garlic and oregano
1 cup (about 5 1/2 ounces) orzo pasta
2 15-ounce cans lower sodium cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated or shaved parmesan
1. Heat the oil in a soup pot set over medium high. Add the onion, garlic and rosemary, and cook, stirring often, 1 minute until garlic is slightly softened. Add the carrots and celery and cook until somewhat softened, about 4 minutes.
2. Add the broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Stir in the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8-9 minutes. Stir in the beans, cook 1 minute to heat through, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Top each bowl with grated or shaved parmesan.
Makes 6 servings
Nutritional analysis for each serving: 279 calories, 12 g protein, 49 g carbohydrates, 10 g fiber, 4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 398 mg sodium