Three things

A few quick things before I head off to watch my beloved Oregon Ducks play Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. (One of my nutrition professors is a Wisconsin alum. I have two classes with him Wednesday. Could be interesting.)
  1. I was perusing my January issue of Eating Well this morning, which included quite a bit of content related to eating better and/or losing weight in the New Year (I know…shocking!). Some good tidbits there, but my favorite was the advice to adopt the mantra “Back on track, stat!” and repeat it to yourself if you have a nutrition or fitness slip up. It’s an antidote to the “I’ll start again on Monday” mindset, which doesn’t do anyone any favors.
  2. The New York Times had an excellent article in their Sunday Magazine, “The Fat Trap,” about why it’s so hard to maintain a weight loss. This is a subject I’m well acquainted with from a personal and now an academic perspective (I wrote pages and pages on the topic for a take-home midterm a few months ago). In a nutshell, there are so many hormones and biochemical pathways in our bodies that work hard to maintain a certain body weight in every individual (this is sort of the “set point” idea, but not exactly). Fluctuating levels in  even one hormone or enzyme can make it hard to maintain weight loss.
    One might think that our bodies, as human organisms, would all naturally strive to nudge our hunger, satiety and activity levels so that we stay at a healthy weight, but sadly that’s not always the case. Many people who lose weight, especially a lot of weight, have to work at maintenance pretty much constantly. I certainly do, and while it is frustrating at times (because there are so many other things I’d rather be doing than tracking calories and monitoring weight), I prefer it to the alternative of regaining weight. Instead of viewing this reality as depressing, I view it as life. Sometimes life is hard, it just is. Fortunately, some of the best things in life can come from hard work.
  3. As promised, the posole recipe I made yesterday. It’s from the January issue of Bon Appetit, and it practically lept off the page and screamed “make me!” I try to obey those commands. I made it essentially as written, and present it as such below. It’s a keeper of a recipe that I look forward to making for company some time. It needs to be started early in the day, but the hands-on time was minimal, which makes me happy. 

Classic Posole
8-10 servings

Pork Ingredients:
1 TBS ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 2-lb boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 red onion, sliced

Posole Ingredients:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 plum tomatoes, diced
6 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 28-ounce can undrained pinto beans
1 28-ounce can white hominy, drained
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with juices, pureed in blender until smooth
1 TBS oregano (preferably Mexican)
2 tsp ground cumin
salt and freshly ground black pepper
shredded mild cheddar
chopped fresh cilantro
lime wedges
flour tortillas

  1. Pork: Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Line a small roasting pan with foil. Mix cumin, garlic powder and smoked paprika in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture all over pork. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place pork in pan and cover with sliced onion. Pour 1/2 cup water in bottom of pan. Cover tightly with foil and roast until meat is very tender, 5-6 hours. Let pork rest until cool enough to handle.
  2. Using 2 forks, shred pork into bite-size pieces. Skim fat from juices in roasting pan; reserve meat. (Do ahead: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill pork and juices separately.)
  3. Posole: Heat oil in large pot over medium-low heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the diced fresh tomatoes and stir until softened, about 2 minutes longer. 
  4. Stir in broth and next 5 ingredients. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Cover; simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. 
  5. Add reserved pork to posole. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes longer for flavors to meld. Season to taste with salt and pepper, adding reserved juices from roast pork, if desired. Divide among bowls, garnish with shredded cheese, cilantro and lime wedges, and serve with flour tortillas.

Posole is technically a soup, but this made a very thick soup, so it was easy to scoop some of it into pieces of tortilla (a feat I was admittedly doubtful about as I watched it simmer on the stove). Don’t skip the squeeze of lime when serving…it really enhances the flavor.