Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Change can be Exotic

You've seen the commercials I'm sure - the ones that say that Weight Watchers is a change in lifestyle, not a diet.

I for one can vouch for that. There are many ways that I am changing my life in order to fit into this program. One of the biggest areas I am seeing change though is how I cook. Now I am one of those instinctual cooks. I can adapt or even create recipies on the fly - and often times I don't even bother to measure things. I throw in what looks to be a cup. It's probably not a great way to cook - but it sure does taste good.

Now that I am on WW, I've found that I need to change my ways. I need to find ways to make recipies healthy but flavorful. This is hards because it means switching over to using things like reduced fat cheese, fat free plain yogurt, wheat flour, etc. Things that I know are better for me - but that I have somehow drilled in my head do not taste as good. But I must overcome this food prejudice.

So last night I decided to try a WW recipie I found for Chicken Tikka Masala. (You can find the recipie here http://www.weightwatchers.com/food/rcp/index.aspx?recipeid=96061)

I've never made Indian food, but I have to say that I do love eating it. Well, Thinking of Chicken Tikka Masala made me also hungry for the Indian spinach dish Palak Paneer. Paneer is this yummy Indian soft cheese by curdling whole milk by adding in Lemon Juice. Apparently you can totally make it at home, but it requires a lot of straining and pressing - which takes time and space - something that I didn't really have last night. Plus there is the your totally eating whole milk which defeats the healthiness of the spinach.

But I really wanted Palak Paneer. Luckily Laughing Cow Cheese wedges came to my rescue. So for all of you - here is Emily's healthy adaptation of Palak Paneer.

Emily's Palak Paneer

4 tsp. canola oil
2 wedges Laughing Cow Light Creamy Cheese Wedges (traditional flavor)
2 tsp. cumin
2 cups Spinach
1 cup Onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
Crushed Red Pepper

1) Heat up 2 tsp. of canola oil in frying pan. Cut up cheese wedges into little bits (6-8 bits each wedge). When oil hot, throw in cheese bits. Move cheese around in pan so doesn't stay in one spot - either using a spoon or by shaking the pan. After 3 minutes, sprinkle cumin over all cheese. Keep moving cheese for another 1-2 minutes. Transfer cheese to plate and set aside.

2) Wash and Dry spinach. You can either cut Spinach into medium chunks or use whole. Thinly slice small to medium onion so that you have 1 cup of thin onion slices. Mince up garlic (or if you are lazy like me, use already minced garlic from a jar).

3) Pour remaining 2 tsp. of canola oil into same frying pan, coat bottom of pan. When hot, throw in onions and garlic. Cook over medium heat until onions begin to look yellow and soft. Toss in Spinach. Stir onion, garlic, and spinach together until Spinach begins to wilt (about 2-3 minutes). Toss cheese back into pan with spinach and onions. Mix together and cook for another 2 minutes.

4) Season mixture with kosher salt, pepper, and crushed hot pepper (this final pepper is optional - it all depends if you want to add a bit of spice). Serve.

Now I ate all of my palak paneer, but I'm sure this could also be split into two servings. I just happened to be really hungry last night.

Hope you enjoy this healthy version of Palak Paneer.

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