A strange thing happened to me on Wednesday night. I was preparing a butternut squash for roasting and, after I had peeled it, I noticed that my hands were becoming most uncomfortable. Sort of tight and dry. No amount of hand cream or washing would relieve the feeling. I then watched with some alarm as the skin of my hands started to peel off. It was revolting and rather unnerving. Thank heaven for google! I raced to the computer and typed in 'strange skin reaction to butternut squash'. It seems that this is a quite common problem - many people experience the tightness but the peeling skin is quite a strong reaction. Oddly, I've handled butternut plenty of times before with no ill effect... I wonder if anyone else has experienced this? One article likened the effect to that of a chemical peel - perhaps I should be grateful for the now soft and rejuvenated skin on my and?
Anyway, moving swiftly on. The flower-sender and I are trying to eat a little more healthily in order to shift a few pounds before the wedding in May. We are keeping this a secret as I don't want to feel under any pressure to transform myself into someone I'm not. Frankly, we both love food far too much to ever be as thin as we might wish. I'm not planning to give up my love of cake just so I can fit into a smaller wedding dress. But it would be nice to be a little healthier and so we are trying to change a few things.
One of our initiatives is to try and make healthier versions of favourite high-fat dishes without compromising on taste. We are particularly pleased with this recipe which we found in a Weight Watchers cookbook called 'Delicious'. We loved the creamy, rich-tasting tomato-based sauce and the aromatic flavour of the ginger and lime leaves. We tinkered a little with the recipe, adding some extra vegetables. We made this with left-over roast chicken which worked very well, but the recipe below gives directions for cooking the chicken. If you want to use leftovers, add the chicken to the pan once the initial veggies have softened - just before you add the liquid. The addition of thinly sliced mange tout is far more than just a garnish - the refreshing crunch really adds something to this curry.
Fragrant Chicken Curry
Based on recipe from Weight Watchers Delicious cookbook
low fat cooking spray (or tbsp oil)
600g skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 red pepper, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
150g sliced mushrooms
1 bag spinach
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 freeze dried lime leaves
1 tsp mild or hot chilli powder
1 tbsp mild curry powder
50g low-fat soft cheese
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
150ml chicken stock
handful chopped fresh coriander
large handful mange tout, shredded finely lengthways
1. Heat a non-stick saucepan or wok and spray with cooking spray/add oil. Add chicken chunks and cook for around 5 mins until sealed all over. Remove and set to one side.
2. Spray/add a little more oil if necessary and add the pepper, onion, mushrooms, ginger, garlic and lime leaves. Cook for a minute or so until starting to soften. Stir in the chilli powder and curry powder and return the chicken to the pan, stirring constantly for a minute.
3. Add the soft cheese, tomatoes and stock. Bring to boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes until thickened and the chicken is cooked. Serve with rice, topped with the coriander and shredded mange tout.
For anyone who is interested and knows how Weight Watchers works, this curry (without rice) is amazingly just 2.5 points per portion. And the portion was pretty generous - we felt very full afterwards.