Monday, January 26, 2009

Light delight?

After a weekend of complete and utterly shameless culinary indulgence - we're talking macaroni and cheese, pastries, chocolate cake, mashed potatoes, red wine, the list goes on - I'm in serious danger of not fitting into a single pair of my jeans.

But, I must tell you, I have a really hard time doing salads in the winter. Coming in from a cold night the last thing I crave is a plate of lettuce. I want rich. I want savoury. I want something that's going to keep me full for hours. Which made me wonder - is there such a thing as good, 'light' comfort food?

I'm not talking low-fat microwave meals, in fact my single New Year's resolution - one I figured I'd have no problem keeping - was NOT to diet this year. No, I'm thinking more along the lines of recipes that cut a few corners here and there to eliminate some of the extra fat and calories but are still filling and satisfying. They wouldn't have to be low fat, just reduced fat.

With that in mind, I picked up a magazine on Sunday that I haven't bought in a long time: Cooking Light. What attracted me was the cover: a bowl of thick, meaty chili beneath the words 'Come home to dinner.' I couldn't resist.

So here's my experiment: each Sunday for the next four weeks I'm going to try a recipe from this latest issue of Cooking Light (Jan/Feb 2009 for whoever's interested) to see if 'light' comfort food is worth its salt, and satiates my admittedly ravenous appetite. I've already chosen from their '63 recipes for winter warmth' and my selections are as follows:

Week one: White Winter Vegetable Stew

Week two: Cassoulet

Week three: Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Chickpeas and Onion-Pine Nut Topping

Week four: Smothered Steak Burgers and Shoestring Fries with Garlic Dijon Mayo

I promise to be honest about my impressions of these four dishes - and I won't cheat on serving size. I'll share the nutritional info on each meal and let you know a) if I liked the taste; and b) if it satisfied me and kept me full.

Comfort food, lightened up. I'm skeptical, but if these dishes taste as good as the food stylists made them look, and if they help me squeeze back into my dark denim in a month's time, maybe the mag will make a believer out of me.



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