Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
Dec18

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

This time of year—when we’re surrounded by tempting treats—this low fat, comforting soup will feel slightly indulgent and satisfy your sweet tooth, without taking you down! And it’s easy enough to make during the week, but special enough to serve for guests.   I was inspired to make this by the 2-pound container of butternut squash chunks (preservative free) at Costco.   You can, of course, just peel, core and cut up a large butternut squash to yield about the same amount. Nothing ever compares to the freshest ingredients that you peel and chop yourself, but sometimes using convenience items is the difference between getting a homemade dinner on the table, or just not attempting anything… so I’ll always opt for using precut veggies to help out when you need it! A touch of curry powder adds an interesting flavor, without overpowering the delicious squash or making it spicy. Trader Joe’s Curry Powder works perfectly in this recipe, but any mild curry powder will do.   “Sweat” the onions first, over low heat, to soften them and release the moisture—without browning them.   Garnish with Low Fat Greek Yogurt to balance the sweetness and add extra protein. If you’re doing Weight Watchers Simple Start or Simply Filling, Fat Free Greek Yogurt will keep this a Weight Watchers Power Food. Yummm!! Butternut Squash and Apple Soup 2013-12-18 14:32:41 Serves 6 4 Weight Watchers PointsPlus per serving. WW Power Food. Write a review Save Recipe Print 159 calories 28 g 0 g 5 g 4 g 1 g 351 g 59 g 10 g 0 g 5 g Nutrition Facts Serving Size 351g Servings 6 Amount Per Serving Calories 159 Calories from Fat 47 % Daily Value * Total Fat 5g 8% Saturated Fat 1g 4% Trans Fat 0g Polyunsaturated Fat 1g Monounsaturated Fat 4g Cholesterol 0mg 0% Sodium 59mg 2% Total Carbohydrates 28g 9% Dietary Fiber 5g 19% Sugars 10g Protein 4g Vitamin A322%Vitamin C60% Calcium9%Iron8% * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Does this look wrong? Ingredients 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, high quality 1 large yellow onion, chopped 1 teaspoon mild curry powder 2 pounds butternut squash chunks (1 large) 2 small golden delicious apples, or other sweet apples 14.5 oz can (2 cups) low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth) kosher salt freshly ground black pepper water Instructions Add olive oil, onions, curry powder, and two large pinches of salt to a large dutch oven or stockpot and cook uncovered, over low heat, for 10 - 15 minutes, until...

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Ode to Africa
Dec15

Ode to Africa

I was deeply touched by our trip back to South Africa to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday—turned family reunion—and felt compelled to share it on OrnaBakes, which is an extension of who I am. America is now undoubtedly my home, but I’ll always have Africa inside of me. It was wonderful to finally show my husband, Sam, where I grew up, giving him a deeper understanding of who I am and the culture that shaped and molded me. (I’m definitely not your typical “valley girl”!) Unfortunately, even entire stores devoted to biltong (dried and cured meat) didn’t turn Sam into a fan. (It’s hard to explain why it’s so much better than jerky… it just is!) Biltong is such a part of South African culture that you’ll even find it on pizza. (Yummm)   I couldn’t have imagined the sheer joy of reconnecting with my first cousins from Australia and Israel—some of whom I hadn’t seen since I left South Africa TWENTY years ago. Left to Right: Sam Purkin, Orna Purkin, Neil Silver, Maurice Leibowitz, Glen Silver, Joshua Shifren, Amit Efrati, Neville Shifren Angela Benjamin, Sharon Saevitzon, Marlon Silver, Leora Benjamin, Sydelle Leibowitz, Aaron Leibowitz, Ronit Efrati, Danielle Ben Meir, Petra Shifren Boetie Shifren, Zach Shifren, Gary Shifren, Demi Leibowitz, Moran Efrati   To my astonishment, my cousin Glen—in his recent interest in cooking—had happened upon my blog by chance! He attempted making his mother’s “Bulkas” from her handwritten recipe, but they didn’t turn out quite the way he remembered her making them every Yom Kippur. He researched it online, and was amazed that the website he found—describing the familiar taste, smell, and distinct shape of those traditional Cinnamon Buns—belonged to me (his first cousin), and mentioned his own mother, my dear Auntie Phyllie! (I had attempted to get her recipe, but her daughter, Sydelle, couldn’t find it. I would never have guessed that Glen was the one to ask!)   Orna with cousin Glen Silver Glen has since become known in Sydney for his superb Cinnamon Buns! All this time, I had no idea that my cousins in Australia had been following my blog and been moved by my story. Click here for my Traditional South African Bulkas Recipe    The highlight of the my dad’s 80th was surprising him with, Ag Please Boetie—our version of the famous South African Jeremy Taylor song, with customized lyrics by multi-talented Glen. I managed to push through my laryngitis to sing all 12 verses, and everyone chimed in on the chorus. (Let me know if you need a translation for: Kneidlach, Potjiekos, Teiglach, etc.)     Sam was horrified to see a lamb on the spit,...

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Starbucks and La Boulange: Picks and Points
Nov07

Starbucks and La Boulange: Picks and Points

I’m not usually tempted by full fat baked goods at Starbucks (evil!), but ironically, since they partnered up with San Francisco’s La Boulange—which they now own—the “reduced fat”, artisanal options have brought up some serious cravings in me for pastries! Do labels like ‘low fat’, ‘whole grain’ or ‘oatmeal’ make you more likely to give in? I was surprised to find that the “Wheat” Spinach Croissant was higher in fat and calories than the Tomato & Cheese Croissant, after assuming the opposite. (That’s clever marketing for you!)     I managed to stick with my Skinny Caramel Latte (yay me!) and inhaled a Corazonas Oatmeal Square Mini as I got into my car. (One of my favorite Costco items.) This small victory inspired me to compile this guide—with nutritional information and Weight Watchers PointsPlus values—to empower us in the upcoming holiday season! I’ve included my Top Ten Best and Worst Choices, but you’ll find the complete guide below. Even if you’re NOT a Weight Watcher, this list will help you make good choices. Print it! Pin it! Bookmark it! Have a plan before you’re staring longingly through the glass. FACT: All calories are not created equal Weight Watchers does not consider calories at all to calculate points. (Surprised?) By comparing the points versus the calories, you’re automatically making better choices, because PointsPlus values are based on fat, carbs, fiber, and protein—which affect how long you will feel satisfied, and what food choices you make for the rest of the day. TIP: Take something delicious with you, and compare points and “worthiness” to it!  Ask yourself… Is that Lemon Pound Cake really worthy of all those points? You can’t expect a banana or a fruit cup to stand up to the temptation of a 14-point pastry. But if you have something with you that you consider a special treat (not your usual protein bar or Apple Chips), you’ll be better equipped to resist.  My Top 5 Bring Along Snacks Corazonas Oatmeal Square Minis – 2 PP (The regular size Corazonas Oatmeal Squares are 5PP per chewy square of whole-grain, oaty goodness, with 6g protein to keep you feeling satisfied! My fav is the Peanut Butter. Great to keep in the car because they don’t melt. Check points for different flavors!) Vitalicious Vitatops Muffin Tops – 3 PP belVita Golden Oat Breakfast Biscuits – 3 PP for two biscuits Luna Fiber Bars – 3 PP (my fave is Peanut Butter Strawberry) Bobos Oat Bars – 5 PP for half the bar, so a little decadent, but sooo delish and all natural ingredients. Does the ritual of buying something in a little paper...

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Healthy, Make-Ahead Green Beans
Nov01

Healthy, Make-Ahead Green Beans

Don’t waste points—or calories—on Green Bean Casserole! Unless that’s your favorite childhood dish, and it’s a worthy expense. This easy, make-ahead side is perfect for Thanksgiving—or Thanksgivukkah, the nickname given by American Jews to this first mergence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah since 1888. I love that you can make the beans and the vinaigrette up to two days ahead, and then you don’t need to take up oven or stove space! Blanching the green beans (cooking until tender in rapidly boiling, salted water) and then chilling in ice water, keeps the vibrant green color and and prevents them from getting limp or mushy. The water for boiling the beans and the ice water needs to be salty (like the ocean), or your beans will taste bland.     Mild shallots impart just enough flavor, without making them too strong or onion-y. Click here for How to Mince a Shallot   Green Beans with Mustard Vinaigrette 2013-10-31 14:18:37 Serves 12 Weight Watchers Power Food (count the olive oil toward your daily serving). Or 2 Weight Watchers PointsPlus per serving. Write a review Save Recipe Print 93 calories 5 g 0 g 7 g 2 g 1 g 131 g 2190 g 2 g 0 g 6 g Nutrition Facts Serving Size 131g Servings 12 Amount Per Serving Calories 93 Calories from Fat 65 % Daily Value * Total Fat 7g 11% Saturated Fat 1g 5% Trans Fat 0g Polyunsaturated Fat 1g Monounsaturated Fat 5g Cholesterol 0mg 0% Sodium 2190mg 91% Total Carbohydrates 5g 2% Dietary Fiber 3g 12% Sugars 2g Protein 2g Vitamin A8%Vitamin C6% Calcium5%Iron6% * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Does this look wrong? Beans 3 pounds green beans, trimmed 3 tablespoons salt Vinaigrette 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 3 tablespoons whole-grain mustard 4 teaspoons red wine or sherry vinegar 1 shallot, minced 1 garlic clove, minced 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste 1/4 teaspoon pepper Instructions For the beans: Bring about 8 quarts water to boil in a large pot over high heat. Fill large bowl with ice water mixed with 1 tablespoon salt; set aside. Add beans and about 2 tablespoons salt to boiling water and cook until mostly tender, but still underdone, with slight crunch in center, 3 - 5 minutes. Drain beans, then transfer immediately to ice water. Let beans cool completely, about 5 minutes, then drain and pat dry with paper towels. For the vinaigrette: Shake all ingredients together in jar with tight-fitting lid. To Store: Wrap beans...

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Seven Nights of Sexy, Part Two
Oct21

Seven Nights of Sexy, Part Two

I’m sure you’re feeling great about yourself—and your relationship—after completing our Seven Day Challenge, Part One. We’re going to Get into Action with Part Two! I can’t wait to hear how connected you feel, and how incredibly loving and happy your partner has become. (That’s all I need to know, thank you!) You’ll definitely learn something new—and get ideas—just from reading this inspirational guest post by Lou Paget. (Have you ever heard of the SWIRL?) Click here if you missed our Seven Day Challenge, Part One and you’re wondering what this has to do with OrnaBakes! Part Two begins this Wednesday, October 23rd. Join our discussion on Facebook, Twitter, and G+. Try making Fabio’s Mom’s Meatballs together, to get you in the mood for Day 4—on Saturday! Here’s to an extraordinary week… xoxo Seven Day Sex Challenge, Part Two: The Let’s Get Practical By Lou Paget Let’s be honest, you can think about things all day long, that often leads to paralysis by analysis. Even meditation requires action after the stillness. I’m paraphrasing a Mother Teresa quote, “Prayer without action is no prayer at all.” Here I am going to share some of the best ideas that Great Lovers shared with me in my Couples book, The Great Lover Playbook. (Giveaway details below.) First, one must realize that Falling in Love sex is not the same as Being in Love sex, yet one does not take away from the other. They build on one another and many people and couples speak of the cycles of loving and falling in love on a regular basis. Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity speaks of how couples are most drawn to their spouse or partner when they are away or they are apart, when from a comfortable distance they observe her being in her element, being radiant and confident, and then when they are surprised by what she/ he looks like. No shock that brides want to knock their future husbands off their feet as she comes to their ceremony. That mental download powerfully sets a desire cycle for them both. Wonder why they show a couple in evening attire in ads? Men in tuxes move women’s libidos. So let’s get started with your Week 2 activities. And FYI – if you want to do days 1, 2, & 3 all at once, have at it. I have structured it to be respectful of tight timetables. Review your Benchmark from Week 1. Give yourself kudos for getting to Week 2. Day 1: You are going to practice the SWIRL. This is using your fingertips or lightly stroking your nails in a continuous irregular wavy pattern on their arms, legs,...

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Fabio’s Mom’s Meatballs, made Light
Oct15

Fabio’s Mom’s Meatballs, made Light

One of my most special family times ever was making meatballs and sauce (from scratch!) with my hubby and little one. These are super-easy and fun to make, and mouthwateringly delicious!   Sam—who only makes Kraft Mac & Cheese—threatened to make them after accompanying me to Fabio Viviani’s Cooking Demo, but I didn’t think he’d actually follow through.   Look what I got Mr. Clean to do! (If he can do it, so can you.) He actually rubbed olive oil into his hands before rolling the balls!!! Needless to say it was a computer-free evening. (Oh! Now I get why he washed the dishes for an hour.)   Fabio insists that the secret to moist meatballs is to cook them right in the sauce, and after trying his, we agree. Do you sear your meatballs, or cook them right in the sauce?   At the risk of upsetting a feisty Italian, I used Laura’s Lean Beef (92% lean) instead of 80/20, recommended by Fabio.   Ricotta cheese keeps them moist, and they were just as tasty with low fat ricotta and lean beef.   You could, of course, make them with turkey, but then they would be turkey meatballs! I eat SO much turkey and chicken, that sometimes I crave that yummy, beefy taste. And these are healthier than many of the turkey meatballs out there. (Especially the pre-cooked ones.) Warning: Very more-ish! This was my third time making them (finally got down to posting the recipe), and once again I couldn’t stop thinking about them all night long, and went back in at 10pm! What is it about them that keeps you going back for more?   Serve with crusty Ciabatta Bread and/or Trader Joe’s Vegetable Radiatore. (5 Weight Watchers PointsPlus for 3/4 cup.)   Baby Broccoli sautéed in olive oil and garlic makes a great side dish—I don’t even need the pasta.   Tips for Success Mince the garlic and the shallots quite finely, because they’re not getting cooked before going into the meatballs. Shallots are a little milder and sweeter than onions. How to Mince a Shallot Keep the root end intact, and make one slice through the middle, horizontally, and then tiny slices almost all the way to the root, but not through it. That way all the pieces don’t separate and go all over the board.   I learned a great tip from Alex Guarnaschelli, to spread the meat around and up the sides of the bowl, so you can season it properly.   Oops! Not quite sure how much salt went into that batch.   The meatballs can be rolled the day before; cover with...

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