Friday, April 2, 2010

Today's Lunch

I love grilled cheese, as do most people, I imagine. Even when I successfully lost weight in college so long ago, I never stopped eating things like grilled cheese. The only difference was that I ate it on whole wheat in college and now I eat it on whole wheat and eat about half as much as I did back then. I had tuna salad around from earlier in the week, so I made this into a tuna-melt-style sandwich instead of straight grilled cheese, though it's common for me to make a cheese sandwich with 2 ounces of cheese. The soup and the pickle help make this more filling, though it is a small meal. Ironically, I've found that reduced calorie margarine actually grills whole wheat sandwiches better than real butter, so I get lower calories and a nicely browned sandwich.

This tomato soup is one of my absolute favorite things to have around to snack on  or accompany meals because it is warm, filling, savory, and low in calories. It's also cheap to make. Note that not all bouillon cubes are the same so you may have to experiment with the number and type that you use. You may need more or fewer depending on the size and flavor intensity of the cubes and your tastes. I prefer to use chicken-flavored cubes, but beef is okay as well. Generally speaking, I use cubes intended for making soup by dissolving one cube in 8 oz. of water. I usually use Knorr brand.

tomato soup:
  • 1 tsp. oil (40 calories)
  • 1 medium onion, diced (44 calories)
  • 2 small garlic cloves, cut into quarters lengthwise (9 calories)
  • 1/3 large carrot sliced, chopped (10 calories)
  • 1 large tomato, roughly chopped (33 calories)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (77 calories)
  • 2 chicken (or beef) bouillon cubes (20 calories)
  • dried parsley, salt, coarse black pepper to taste (I use 3/4 tsp. parsley, 1/2 tsp. pepper, 1/2 tsp. salt)
  • 3 cups water
total for entire batch: 233 calories

Heat a medium-size soup pot over medium heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat. Warming the pan first then adding the oil allows you to get more coverage with less oil. Add the onions and garlic clove pieces to the oil and cook until the onion is softened. If it starts to brown too quickly, lower the heat to medium-low. Stir in carrot pieces, parsley, pepper, and salt and allow to cook for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped fresh tomato and cook for a further 5 minutes. Finally, add the canned tomato, bouillon cubes, and water. Cover and cook at a vigorous simmer for 30 minutes or at a normal simmer for an hour. The soup is done when the carrots are tender. Cooking it longer just develops the flavors more, but isn't absolutely necessary. Puree the soup with an immersion blender and taste to see if it needs more seasoning (usually, you'll need to adjust the salt). This makes about five 8-ounce (1 cup) servings at 47 calories per serving.

grilled sandwich of (1/2 serving) tuna salad, 1 oz. Colby Jack cheese on (1 slice) whole wheat bread: (71 + 110 + 80) = 261
1 cup tomato soup = 47 calories
reduced fat margarine (for grilling) = 30 calories
pickle = 0
total = 338

This was obviously a very tiny meal, and is not really an uncommon choice for me. Later, I had a banana and full fat yogurt (with sugar) as a snack. This is a fairly classic example of my meal splitting to eat my calories spread out throughout the day more in order to not feel as hungry.

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