A Nutritious, Vegetarian, Calorie-Conscious, Gluten-Free, Generally Yummy Meal

Sometimes life embarks on twists and turns that make eating, let alone cooking, a bit difficult.

A couple of weeks ago, the other member of my household arrived home from a trip to the Outer Banks, bringing with him what has now become known as “The Supervirus”.

This was not your ordinary cold.  The poor guy was on the couch for at least a week, and he’s not your typical man-baby when he’s sick.

He’s still on the mend, but for a period of time, was on a strict diet of liquefied and pureed food due to a complete loss of the ability to swallow.  I am holding strong, largely due to sheer willpower and massive doses of Vitamin C.

It didn’t seem like much fun to cook, when he couldn’t eat.  But I did whip up this root vegetable mash, figuring I could probably get a few spoonfuls in him, and that he needed to eat his veggies anyway.

Every now and then, you find a main-dish recipe suitable for people with quite a variety of eating complexities.  You can eat this if you’re vegetarian, watching calories, or on a gluten-free diet.  In fact, if you substitute oil for butter, it would be vegan.  It’s also cheap.  I guess if you’re the meat-and-potatoes type you might turn up your nose, but what the heck – live a little!

The Recipe:  Root Vegetable Mash with Caramelized Onions

The Cookbook:  Weight Watchers Simply Delicious, published 2002

Other Menu Items:  Sauteed Baby Spinach

Cooking It Up:

So we’re back to the cookbook project here.  I own two Weight Watchers cookbooks, purchased when I lived in Chicago and was trying to lose 30 pounds before my 30th birthday.

I was successful, I might add, but those sneaky pounds have crept back on over the last 8 1/2 years, so now I’ll be attempting to lose 40 pounds before my 40th birthday which is in July 2012.  In fact, I plan to start trying just as soon as I finish eating chicken-broccoli casserole for breakfast today.  (Hey, don’t you know ALL my will power is currently directed toward not getting sick?!)

Weight Watchers is the ONLY weight loss program that’s ever worked for me, largely because it’s based on the sensible concept that if you consume fewer calories and engage in more activity, you’ll lose weight.  Imagine!

Even so, I had to modify it, as follows:

  • I’m not excited about total deprivation, so I gave myself “weekends off” as far as the calorie counting.
  • I’d rather have a little less dressing with my salad than have it taste like sugary plastic.
  • I firmly believe that things like low-fat cheese and fat-free half and half should be stricken from the planet immediately.
  • I’m not much for sugar substitutes, with the guilty exception of Diet Rite, which I actually like.

The other thing about me and dieting is that I don’t think the people around me should have to diet too.  So if I think something’s going to taste like diet food, I just won’t make it.  Not interested.

But this dish actually feels like vegetarian comfort food.  It was good.  Really good.

Root Vegetable Mash With Caramelized Onions:

Peel 1 pound carrots and 1/2 pound parsnips.  Cut them into 1-inch chunks and place them in a large saucepan with enough water to cover them.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are very tender.  The book says 15 minutes; mine took longer.

Meanwhile, melt 2 tsp butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add 2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped, and cook until golden, about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in 1 tsp packed brown sugar, reduce heat to low, and cook until the onions are golden brown and well softened, about 12 minutes.  Stir frequently so the brown sugar doesn’t burn.

Drain the carrot-parsnip mixture, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.  Pulse in a food processor along with reserved liquid, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper and a pinch of nutmeg until the vegetables are smooth.  (OR, alternately, return the vegetables to the pan after draining, along with the 1/2 cup of cooking liquid.  Mash with a potato masher until desired consistency.)

Stir 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained, into the onion mixture.  Cook until heated through, about 4 minutes.  (If you’d like to make sauteed spinach too, you can dump this mixture into a bowl, and cover it so it stays warm.  Wipe out your skillet, and saute your spinach.  After all, you’ve got enough dirty dishes underway for this meal already.)

If you’re going to put this in a serving dish on the table, you can mound the mashed vegetables in the center, and arrange the chickpeas and onions around it.

If you prefer to let everyone serve themselves in the kitchen, as I usually do, your plate might look something like this.

I don’t normally include nutritional information on my site, but since it IS a Weight Watchers recipe, here you go:

Per serving, which they say is 1/2 cup root vegetable mash and 1/2 cup chick pea mixture: 293 calories, 5 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 5 mg cholesterol, 591 mg sodium, 54 total carbs, 11 g dietary fiber, 11 g protein, 109 mg calcium

Chris did manage to eat a few spoonfuls of the mashed veggies.  He even tried some chickpeas, which are one of his favorite foods.  He bemoaned the fact that he couldn’t eat more.  So I’ll be making it again for him, sometime soon.

Until next time,



~ by clevelandkat on January 29, 2011.

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