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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again

My recent forays into exercise and getting into shape have been somewhat ill fated.  A couple of years ago, my friend Heidi turned me on to exercise boot camp.  That ended abruptly when I tore my meniscus and found myself myself in physical therapy instead of boot camp after knee surgery.  Then, last summer, I decided that a daily brisk walk was just the ticket to physical fitness.  That ended on my first attempt with a stress fracture in my foot and a giant boot.  Not only was it painful, the boot was ugly.

But, I love to eat and if you love to eat, then exercise is a dirty little requirement.  So, it's time to take off  the clothes hanging on my elliptical and--carefully--get back in the saddle again.   Just a few minutes every day to start and then, if I don't send myself back to the orthopedist,  I'll increase over time.  I'm holding out hope that all will go well.

So, now that I'm going to be a mean, lean exercise machine, I should probably pull out a couple of those low cal recipes that I counted on after my kids were born when I was trying to lose the baby weight.

Now, I have to preface this by saying that, for the most part, I don't really believe in low calorie cooking.  It just doesn't taste as good as the more caloric options.  I don't object to low calorie foods on principle.   What I don't like is when high calorie foods masquerade as diet foods. Why eat skinny mashed potatoes when you can eat creamy, delicious buttermilk mashed potatoes?  Sure the skinny ones are lower in calories but they're not nearly as satisfying.  I'd rather eat less and eat tastier.

Still, sometimes low calorie cooking can be really delicious.  This recipe for Moroccan Meatball Stew is a good example of something that really should be more fattening but isn't.  This is a family favorite and when you try it, you'll see why.

Moroccan Meatball Stew
(Adapted from Simply Delicious, 2002)


1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 lb. lean ground veal
2 tbl. cilantro, minced
2 1/2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2  (6 oz.) can tomato paste
3/4 cup water
1 tbl. chopped parsley, to garnish

Combine the beef, veal, 1 tbl. of the cilantro, 1 1/2 tsp. of the paprika, 1 tsp. of the cumin, 1/2 tsp. of the salt, and 1/8 tsp. of the pepper in a large bowl.  Shape into 24 one-inch meatballs.

Heat a large non-stick skillet.  Swirl in the oil and then add the onion and garlic.  Saute until softened, 3-5 minutes.  Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water, the remaining 1 tbl. cilantro, 1 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. cumin,  1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper; bring to a boil.  Add the meatballs, reduce the heat and simmer covered, until the meatballs are cooked and the sauce thickens 30-45 minutes.  Garnish with the parsley just before serving.

Serve over couscous.

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