Archive | March, 2013

Chicken Breast with Red-Wine Sauce (The SparkPeople Cookbook)

25 Mar

Chicken Breast in a Red Wine Sauce

As I’ve said in a previous post, you can view the recipes online, and here is the link that:

–          http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=1486520.

About the Recipe

This is a Chef Meg makeover on Chicken Cacciatore (aka Chicken Hunter Style) (Galvin 197). Chicken Cacciatore has been a dish I’ve wanted to make for some time but have no idea how to describe it. Therefore, according to wiseGEEK.com, Chicken Cacciatore is an Italian stew consisting of chicken, mushrooms, and spices, such thyme and parsley. (If anyone wants to give more insight, please comment below.) What caught my eye and one of the reasons I chose this recipe is it uses red wine; from watching cooking shows on making healthier recipes, wine, be it red, white, etc. can be considered empty calories and replaced in some cases. One note made about wine, and is a general rule of thumb, is to only use wine you would actually drink (Galvin 197).

Ingredients and Shopping

In order to prepare this dish, you will need a medium saucepan with a heavy bottom and a lid. At the first, I thought cast-iron, which can be appropriate to use. However, the use of anything cast-iron is normally specified in the recipe. From talking to a manger at Bed, Bath and Beyond, a heavy bottom saucepan is where the metal is all throughout the pan, which apparently allows it to cook more evenly. (That answer still confuses me, and please comment to give clarity.) When trying to find this type of saucepan, some keywords to possibly look for are heavy-gauge and hard-anodized.

In addition to getting the pan, I went to 2 other stores to get the rest of the ingredients:

  1. Trader Joe’s
  2. Whole Foods

Making and Tasting the recipe

            Making the recipe was simple enough. Although a little prep work and stirring is required as specified in the directions, most of it is letting burner and pan do the work for you. An optional and classic garnish to this dish is pearl onions (Galvin 197). Despite a little cooking, you are kind of biting into them raw, which concerns me.

Although this recipe is a lighter version of Chicken Cacciatore, the sauce looks to be somewhat rich. As I tasted, it had a great heartiness to it from many of the ingredients, including the red wine. When my roommate wasn’t around, I was actually licking the sauce off the plate. Despite the concern about the pearl onions, it is a good garnish; having that crunch retained was refreshing with everything else being tender. In addition, the sweetness of the pearl onions and the onion in the sauce helped to balance the dish. The chicken was well-season though a little overcooked. That said, the goof-up was on my part than the recipe.

The recipe didn’t specify what mushrooms to use, and normally when a recipe does that, white button mushrooms are typically used (or least I think). However, that wasn’t the best decision. Even though it wasn’t bad, the mushrooms really didn’t offer anything beside bulk. In the future, I’ll probably use something like a crimini since it has an earthiness that may better compliment the heartiness of the sauce. In addition, I may swap the chicken breast with turkey breasts. Although it is starting to deviate from the recipe a bit, turkey has a gaminess that may add to the recipe while having the benefit of being a lean protein.

Nutrition Info:

Since this cookbook is focused on the healthy, it’s no surprise they have some nutrition info with almost each recipe. Since I am doing that myself with a different database than SparkPeople, I think it may be interesting to see how they compare. Like the recipes, they are available online, and I will post what I calculate for this test in a comment below.

At first, I was surprised by how low almost all the nutrients, especially the calories, were in the book and thinking, “How did they do that?” After my number crunching, the two were way off, as mine has almost 100 more than stated in the book. Still confused, I checked online, which they have info for both 6 servings and 4. The one for 6 is similar to the book with the one for 4 is closer to what I got for most of the nutrients. Despite the error, you’re still getting a great value for your nutrition buck with this recipe.

To look at the nutrition from SparkPeople, click on the link (for 4 servings) below:

–          http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calories.asp?recipe=1486520

Rating:

On the website, they give recipe ratings out of 5. Thus, at least for this test, I will follow the same rating. For this recipe, I will give it a 4.5. I may tweak a few things, but that sauce was amazing!

If want to comment, critique, etc. feel free to post below and let me know what you know think.

References:

– Ellis-Christensen, Tricia. “What is Chicken Cacciatore?” WiseGeek. Ed. O. Wallace. 2013. Conjecture. 22 Mar. 2013 <http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-chicken-cacciatore.htm&gt;.

– Galvin, Meg, and Stepfanie Romine. “Chicken Breast with Red-Wine Sauce.” The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2011. 197.

– Galvin, Meg. “Calories in Chicken Breasts with Red Wine Sauce.” SparkRecipes. 22 Mar. 2013 <http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calories.asp?recipe=1486520&gt;.

– Galvin, Meg. “Chicken Breasts with Red Wine Sauce.” SparkRecipes. 22 Mar. 2013 <http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=1486520&gt;.

About The SparkPeople Cookbook

25 Mar

After, umm, several… months of trying to get this blog up and running, our first official test and launch of Eat Me will be The SparkPeople Cookbook. SparkPeople is considered to be the top website for weight-loss and fitness with SparkRecipes (which some to all the recipes stem from) being the largest online resource for healthy recipes. Written by editor Stepfanie Romaine and Chef Meg Galvin, this cookbook contains over 150 recipes to show healthy cooking is feasible, enjoyable, and satisfying for the body, mind, soul, and most importantly, to the palette.  (Wait, isn’t this a cookbook and not a yoga class? Well, yoga and diet can go hand-in-hand, and Stepfanie happens to be a certified yoga instructor.) Although the book’s slogan is “Love Your Food, Lose the Weight”, this cookbook is for anyone wanting to cook healthier, whether or not getting to a healthier weight is one of the goals. Through the recipes and other information, The SparkPeople Cookbook emphasizes the same goal as found online, which is to “ditch the diet” and enjoy what you eat.

Part of the reason why I chose this to be the first test is SparkPeople has been a good resource in my weight loss journey. At my heaviest, I used to weigh 255 lbs, and I was your classic yo-yo dieter and never thought I was going hit my initial goal of 175 lbs. Then, I met with a dietitian named Maureen, and she was the one who introduce me to SparkPeople. Though I have used other tools, SparkPeople has definitely helped me to exceed my first weight goal (Bye-bye yo-yo). Despite keeping the weight the off, I have gotten off track with SparkPeople, and I notice future weight loss became inconsistent since then. Regardless if testing the recipes from The SparkPeople CookBook is a success or not, I am hoping it can, at least, inspire me to start utilizing this resource once again (as well as losing the last couple of pounds to hit my final weight loss goal of losing 100 lbs.).

An interesting factor in testing this cookbook is joining SparkPeople costs nothing, you do not have to be member to access SparkRecipes. Obviously, even if the cookbook is a success, the question is, “Why buy the cookbook when I can get the recipes for free online?” On one hand, getting and cooking a recipe from cookbook has a way different feel than obtaining it online. However, that doesn’t really justify spending your money on the book.

So far, I have done some “pretesting” with the cookbook. (Basically, cooking the recipes but not blogging about a damn thing yet). In order for me and anyone who wants to contribute to answering the question, it’s time to get cooking and, especially in my case, actual blogging.

About the Authors

If I am able to, I will try to post a bio about the author(s) of the test we are doing either in this section or a separate post should the introduction not running way too long. However, based on how I would word it, I am not able to this time. However, if you wanted to read the bios of Meg Galvin and Stepfanie Romine, they are available on the SparkPeople website, and here is the URL :

http://www.sparkpeople.com/community/residentexperts.asp

References:

– Galvin, Meg, and Stepfanie Romine. The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2011.

Image:

Borboa, Michele. “Healthy Cooking Tips from Chef Athlete Meg Galvin.” Sheknows.com. 4 Aug. 2011. SheKnows, LLC. 25 Mar. 2013 <http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/837713/healthy-cooking-tips-from-chef-athlete-meg-calvin/page:2&gt;.