Do you want a good soup recipe? Here it is. If you like fennel and dill that is.
I originally wrote about how we’re eating more fish because I’m trying to lose the same 20 lbs. I lose every 3 or 4 years. This is the third round. I lost 22 in college, the same 20 a few years later after gaining it all and then some back, and now 4 years later after gaining that and then some back…I need to once again. I can’t maintain weight loss very well. Nothing more than a year. I have good behaviors but eventually let myself have whatever I want all the time years later and tell my good self to shut it.
So, I wrote this long post about my struggles and went back over it and just didn’t want to go there. This time I’m not using a weight loss program or specific guidelines like Weight Watchers or the South Beach Diet as I did those first 2 times. Specific goals? Yes. Food journal? Sure. Treadmill? Check. Workout dvds that I like? A few times a week. Relying on prepackaged foods and canned soup? Not so much which is different than those other times.
Weird to say as a foodie. But it shows how different my life is today. I discovered how much I enjoy food, as in cooking, as in how delicious fresh, quality ingredients can be, in just the last 5 years. My taste has blossomed and I want to try everything. I just filled my stomach with whatever would take away the hunger then woke up and did it again, taking little joy in eating back then. In moments of frustration I ask myself why I can’t just do that again. It worked and then the me of today chimes in and screams hell no, that’s not happening. Both of those Annies know this won’t be successful if we deprive ourselves and by deprive I mean of homemade, fresh, diverse flavored food, as well as, cheese, chocolate, alcohol and full fat versions of things (with portion control). That’s how I want the rest of my life to go so I have to make this work. Instead of complaining, I thought I’d tell you what works for me when I listen to myself. Maybe it could help those of you on the weight loss journey and definitely be a reminder for myself.
According to Sunset magazine (where I got the recipe below), there are 224 calories per serving which is great since it has chickpeas which are full of fiber and keep you feeling fuller longer and it’s a fair amount of calories for a lunch. That’s a big deal in the world of weight loss. So many diets rely on broth-based meals and water-based veggies which keep the calories down but they also don’t have an ingredient to keep hunger at bay. In an hour you’ll be hungry again. Hungry to the point where you need to have something. The same goes for snacks, they are better with some fiber and protein. I remember being asked to join this food community when I first started blogging and one of the male creators asked for meals when you’re watching your weight so I sent him one of my favorite soup recipes that had beans. He commented that he didn’t think that was really healthy, told me his ridiculous notions about nutrition and was a complete asshole about it-my first response in this “community.” I left because it was obviously started by an idiot. There are a lot of silly ideas about weight loss, a lot of tactics that will leave you confused once you want to maintain that loss and lifestyle.
I’ve done the no fruit, no milk, only low moisture cheese, no potatoes, no corn, no pasta, no beans, no rice, no bread and only lean meat. All at once. I’ve been there where I gained weight the day after I “reintroduced” an apple to my diet. For real. You really will have to keep those things off your menu and won’t be able to “reintroduce” those like they say. It’s a lie. Then there’s usually a third part where they say you can even have sugar, flour, chocolate and alcohol back in your life and still maintain your weight. Big fat lies.
More tips I’ve learned. Bread is not a bad guy or pasta or chocolate or alcohol. You have to be smart with your portions and if you know you’re going to be eating out, find the menu and see what you can have. If need be have a little something before you go so you’re not as hungry. Pack snacks in individual bags and bring them with you. That helps when you go to a movie or driving home or running errands. A few almonds really do help. Find snacks/meals that don’t feel all that healthy (but are) and repeat them once or every 2 weeks (depending on how many recipes you find to cater to your taste because face it, you’re going to want to be surrounded by things that make you think you can keep doing this). Something that you say to yourself can’t be this good for me tasting this great. On a similar note, find flavors that you always take note of in meals and think are tasty then find or create more meals highlighting those flavors. Add more veggies to your meals-double them and fill up. If you want to have an alcoholic beverage, allot for those calories. And don’t eat because you’re feeling some emotion you think is hunger when it’s boredom, anxiety, excitement, etc.. Know when that time of day is that you are prone to want to eat more. Mine is in the evening. We’ve moved when we eat dinner so I don’t have a night snack much these days but that happened naturally with our schedules.
If you get something you really enjoy that could get you in calorie trouble, portion it out right away before storing it. Make just enough portions as you need or if you have more self-control, portion it out for future meals and lunches (I do for Greg’s lunches). Freeze the leftovers if you can. Make extra broth and save it for future recipes. It tastes better. Dark chocolate is great and better for you so go with that. With produce, if you have time, prep it for your recipe (if you can) because if you’re running short on time, you might be tempted to order out or turn to something over your calories with the extra time chopping and cleaning involved. Having them ready to go makes your meal come together faster and seems do-able. Experiment with spices that will add flavor and not calories. Go easy on the butter and oil. Not all oils are created equal.
Watching your calories pairs well with regular workouts-even 20 to 30 minutes 3,4,5 days a week is beneficial. I know some will say don’t weigh yourself daily or at all, rely on how your clothing fits (that would take me a long time and I’m sure I’d feel downhearted by that point) but I don’t like that. Sometimes weighing yourself is that thing that keeps you honest and motivated. After you do though, don’t obsess or give up and know that your weight can fluctuate all day long by pounds. I choose a time of day-morning-and don’t weigh myself every time I’m in the bathroom beyond my morning weigh-in.
I write it all-progress and no progress-in my food journal which I think is a necessity if you’re trying to lose weight. Keep the time you eat, your meal with calories and then a total at the bottom before bed (or the next morning). Also write your weight beside that along with tracking your workouts-what it was and how long/far. I also write how I was feeling or any issues from the day. At the end of the week I suggest writing your total weight loss and total time spent working out. If you hit a plateau you can go back and see where maybe you can do better by either adding more time to your workout or reducing your calories somewhere. There are more tips that maybe I’ll share later.
Cod and Chickpea Soup with Dill and Tomatoes
1 tsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1 sprig fresh dill (original called for rosemary but I had dill…quite a difference), plus more for garnish
4 tomatoes (about 1 lb.), roughly chopped
1 can (14 oz.) chickpeas (garbanzos), drained
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 lb. white fish fillets such as cod (or halibut)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
Heat 1 tsp. oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add fennel seeds, dill, tomatoes, chickpeas, wine, and broth and cook, covered, until boiling. Meanwhile, cut the fish into 1-in. chunks and add to boiling broth. Reduce heat and simmer until fish is cooked through and pulls apart when poked with a fork, about 3 minutes. Remove dill sprig, season with salt and pepper, and spoon into bowls. Drizzle each serving with oil, sprinkle with parsley and chopped dill.