On Being Arnold and Hilda’s Very Best Tomatoes

Hear the rolling thunder of the tomato crop at its peak.
Hear the rolling thunder of the tomato crop at its peak.

I hurt in places where I didn’t know I had places. Specifically, my triceps, my upper and lower abs. That’s from Pilates, and it actually feels kinda nice, when I shift in my seat, to be reminded that I made it all the way through a fairly brutal class yesterday.

In Weight Watchers this week, Tootsie, our leader, asked what were the good things about starting to work out regularly. There were the standard answers: I feel better, I’ve been able to stop taking drugs for my diabetes, I can wear smaller clothes, etc. Nobody said it just felt good to use her body again.

Mine has served me well, and I really like being able to park miles away from the door at the Y without worrying about how I’m going to hike there. I enjoy being able to make it all the way through that Pilates or even zumba class without falling on the floor sobbing. I like being able to paint my own toenails again.

My big eye-opener this week, along with how painfully difficult it still is for me to do a BodyFlow class, has been the number of Weight Watchers points I waste on food and drink that does nothing for me. Yesterday, for instance, I had a light beer with supper (3 points), some Nabisco Good Thins with my lunch (4), an orange Creamsicle (4) and a tablespoon of chocolate chips (3).

That’s 14 points and I’m only supposed to eat 30 points a day!

So last night when I was tired and craving something, I had a couple tablespoons of peanut butter on an apple. I felt better, I wasn’t consuming junk and the number on the scales was down this morning.

The latest issue of Prevention magazine has an extensive article (“The Ups and Downs of Weight Loss” by Cindy Kuzma, Sept. 2016)  about regaining weight lost, specifically the weight gains by contestants on “The Biggest Loser” (“…almost all of them had regained an average of 90 pounds six years later.”)

Kuzma cites two solutions: “Maintaining lean muscle mass as you lose weight gives you the best shot at burning as many calories as possible throughout the day, since muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does. To this end, experts advise starting a total-body strength-training program and building up to two or three resistance workouts per week. (And don’t forget to squeeze in cardio, which plays a big role in weight loss maintenance as well.)”

And eat more protein. “…some experts believe,” according to Kuzma, “that higher protein intake (100 to 120 g) while losing weight is essential so your body doesn’t lose lean tissue and cause your metabolic rate to drop.” That’s about twice the RDA of protein for an average adult woman.

This wonderful tomato dish from our church cookbook Fourth Creek Meeting House Encore (Morris Press Books, 2003) has a little protein and lots of taste. I tweaked it some; next time I’ll tweak it more by cooking bacon separately and adding crumbled bacon at the end, eliminating the grease. You could shrink the point count even further by using low-fat cheese.

Hilda’s very best tomatoes

3 cups tomato pieces, cut up and seeded

2 teaspoons vegetable cooking oil

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 medium onion, chopped and sautéed in oil until caramelized

3/4 cup grated cheese (I used fresh mozzarella, manchego and Cheddar)

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 slices bread, cubed

1/2 teaspoon dried basil or a fistful of fresh basil leaves, cut into slivers

3 strips bacon

Heat oven to 325°. Saute onions and combine with tomatoes, brown sugar and basil. Cut bread into small cubes. In 9-inch-square baking dish put a layer of tomato mixture, then a layer of bread and cheese. Repeat. Bake, covered, 1 hour. Meanwhile, cook bacon, drain and crumble. At end of hour, put bacon on top of casserole. Run under broiler if you want the top browned. Use more or less bread, depending upon juiciness of tomatoes. Serves 6 to 8. An eighth of the dish is just 4 points.

This is so much better than it looks, but you can see how the bread's soaked up the tomato juice.
This is so much better than it looks, but you can see how the bread’s soaked up the tomato juice.

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