The general rule of thumb is that Americans gain an average of 7 lbs between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Then they’re all depressed and sign up for expensive gym memberships that they don’t have time to use.
The reality is that there are really only 4 meals that are out of your control.
Unless you’re Jewish, Italian or Cuban, in which case you may need to tell the family matriarch that you have contracted a rare parasite that prohibits anything more than X number of Tbs of food lest you become incontinent. FYI, it works but you may be opening yourself up to potentially publicly humiliating inquiries as to your bowel habits and worse yet, mandatory stool samples for giardia (been there, done that).
In any event, if you prepare ahead of time and have a refrigerator full of low cal options, you can avoid the post-holiday blues.
We began our trial runs of tasty options yesterday. Last night happened to be the finale of AHS. Our finale viewing guests scarfed each and every dish down with no knowledge of our experimentation.
These are the ones we tried yesterday but our experiments will continue throughout the pound packing season.
- 2 boneless, skinless half chicken breasts
- 1 32 oz container of salt free, fat free chicken stock (we tried Swanson’s and College Inn. No difference, although the classic flavor offered by Progresso smells of thyme which we did not enjoy at all. The flavor was fine. The smell wasn’t. Plain was best)
- 1 10 oz bag of steam fresh bagged broccoli
- 1 c basmati rice
- Kosher or Himalayan salt
- 1/4 c grated Parmesan
- Add spice as needed
(for example- we added a tsp of curry powder and a hand full of chopped fresh cilantro to one batch)
- Slit the bags o’ broccoli with a knife. Feel free to exorcize your pre- holiday demons.
- We nuked them for 4 min, but we like them soft.
- Follow the guidelines on the bag
- Pour the stock into a stockpot and bring it to a boil Add the chicken breasts and let them boil for 10 min.
- We did a few batches. Some were done in 10 min, others needed 5 min more.
- If you’re not sure if they’re done, pull them out and slice into them. If they aren’t fully cooked, toss them back in. They won’t become dry or overcooked It’s ok.
- Pluck them out again and they should be cooked through Add the rice to the remaining stock, reduce the heat to simmer and cover for 20 min.
- In the meantime, slice the chicken and the ‘steamed’ broccoli that looks too big to chew.
- Place the sliced chicken in a large bowl.
- Add the Parmesan and the steamed broccoli Toss it all thoroughly Remove the cover from the pot of rice.
- The bag will tell you to only cook it for 20 min or so. Ignore that If you feel like adding more vegetables, steam or microwave them and mix them in with the broccoli and chicken (water chestnuts are nice) After about 30 min, the rice should have absorbed most of the liquid If not let it sit for 5 – 10 min and it will soak it all up.
- Take 1/2 c – 1 c of the rice and toss it with the chicken and broccoli Divide it into 1/2 to 1 cup portions in individual plastic containers and stick them in the refrigerator
- 1 container = 1 meal.
- Easy breezy. Tasty too.
- (3) 10 oz bags of steam fresh cauliflower
- About 10 Yukon Gold potatoes (they are like new potatoes but they’re sweeter and have more tender skin. You don’t need to peel them)
- Cooking spray, preferably olive oil
- Coarse salt (pink Himalayan is our favorite)
- Preheat the oven to 350
- Cut the potatoes in half
- Steam each bag of cauliflower in the microwave as directed. (we go for 4 min per bag)
- Spray a baking sheet with oil
- Place the potatoes cut side down around the baking sheet
- Spread the steamed cauliflower on the sheet
- Spray the whole thing with oil and sprinkle salt generously over the top.
- (generously means a pinch or two)
- Pop it in the oven and check on it every 30 min
- We usually leave it in for about an hour and a half, flipping the cauliflower every 30 min.
- Shuffle the potatoes around too so they don’t burn.
The amount of browning is a personal taste thing; we like the cauliflower to be golden because it takes on a nutty flavor. Most people have no idea that they are eating cauliflower. The few random bites of potato always elicit a surprised reaction. Every time we’ve served this dish someone says Ooo are these potatoes? FYI we find that amusing
- 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Left over chicken stock from the recipe above or water A handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1/2- 1c of the rice from the recipe above
- 1 lg handful of sugar snap peas, steamed
- 2 Tbsp eel sauce
- 1- 2 tsp dark sesame oil
- Boil the water/ stock
- Add the chicken breasts. If they aren’t thick 10 min should do the trick
- Cut into them to check to make sure they are fully cooked
- Slice and toss with the remaining ingredients
- Adding more vegetables will bulk it up even more, making each 1/2 – 1 cup portion even less caloric
- For the whiners who complain about you forcing them to eat diet food, throw a few cashews on top of their dish and garnish the plate with chopped cilantro. They will never realize what’s happening and they’ll love their dinner
- 2 10 oz fresh steam bags of broccoli
- 1/4 c Parmesan
- Pierce the bag and microwave the broccoli
- Again, we do 4 min but we like it tender
- Pour the broccoli on a plate and toss it with Parmesan
That’s it but for some reason people will think you did something special
- 4 c mixed baby greens
- 1/4 c halved walnuts
- 1/4 c blueberries
- 1/2 an apple, sliced
- Toss it all together and use the light dressing of choice
- It will serve 4-6 and the whole thing has very few calories
- We keep it in the refrigerator for about 2 days and grab a handful as a snack. Delicious!
- 3 apples of different varieties, cored
- 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar (optional)
- Sugar free whipped topping
- Preheat the oven to 375
- Place the apples in a baking dish
- Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar
- Bake for 45 min – 1 hr
- Check on them at 45 min
- Serve plain or with sugar free whipped cream sprayed into the cavity
- If you are making them ahead of time for the week, cover them with plastic wrap
Enjoy these easy breezy low cal meals!
More to come next time