Two ways with polenta

I’ve been going well with my weight loss goals at the moment. I’ve lost 1.4kg so far since Good Friday and I am not only feeling and looking great, but I have dramatically decreased my insulin needs and also improved my blood sugar levels, which would make it all worthwhile even if the weight wasn’t coming off just yet! But it is, so that is a bonus :)

It was only when I went to write my shopping list this week that I realised I had planned two meals that used polenta. Luckily I am a big fan of it and didn’t really care! Besides, one was a soft, creamy baked polenta and the other one was used as a crunchy topping, so they weren’t even all that similar.

I found the Mushroom rosemary polenta bake in the May issue of Super Food Ideas magazine and paired it up with a Honey balsamic chicken recipe that I found on sparkpeople.com (which is a wonderful FREE site that helps you to reach your fitness goals – If you are on there, add me as a friend, my username is TaraM84). The polenta was delicious and creamy without using any cream, milk or even oil, and the glaze on the chicken was a perfect match with the steamed vegetables as well.

The Chilli bean bake is out of a book I borrowed from the library called ’200 Fat-free Recipes’ and although my polenta topping didn’t turn out quite as fluffy as their cornmeal one, it was still really tasty. I used about half as much chilli as the recipe called for and found it to be just enough to taste it without making me need to drink a litre of water along with my meal. I had to use canned beans because my supermarket didn’t have dried ones, so I didn’t need to cook mine as long. If you use canned beans use about 3 and 3/4C of beans (almost 3 cans) and halve all the simmering times. Dried beans are of course cheaper and better for the environment as there is less packaging.

Honey Balsamic Chicken w/ Mushroom Rosemary Polenta Bake Serves 4

Honey Balsamic Chicken w/ Rosemary & Mushroom Polenta Bake

Honey Balsamic Chicken

Cut 500g skinless chicken breast into 4 equal portions. Combine 1 1/2tsp dried thyme, 1/2tsp salt & 1/4tsp pepper and sprinkle over both sides of chicken. Heat 1tsp olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook 7 to 8 minutes on each side or until chicken is done. Transfer chicken to a platter and keep warm. Reduce heat to medium-low and add 2Tbsp balsamic vinegar and 2Tbsp honey to pan. Simmer 1 minute or until glaze thickens, stirring constantly. Pour glaze over chicken.

(Nutrition Info – taken from sparkpeople.com: Calories: 173.3, Total Fat: 2.6 g, Cholesterol: 65.7 mg, Sodium: 367.6 mg, Total Carbs: 10.1 g, Dietary Fiber: 0.3 g, Protein: 26.3 g)

Mushroom Rosemary Polenta Bake

Preheat oven to 200C. Place 1C beef stock, 2 crushed garlic cloves & 2C cold water in a saucepan. Cover and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and pour into a large ovenproof dish. Sprinkle over 1C polenta and top with 200g sliced mushrooms & 2tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves. Cover dish tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with 1/2C finely grated parmesan cheese and bake for another 5-7 minutes. Stand for 2 minutes and serve.

(Nutrition Info – taken from SFI: 760kj/180 calories, 4.4g fat inc. 2.4g sat. fat, 10g protein, 23.8g carbs, 2.6g fibre, 474mg sodium)

Chilli Bean Bake w/ Polenta Topping Serves 4

Chilli Bean Bake

Soak 1 1/4C dried red kidney beans in cold water overnight. Drain and rinse well. Preheat the oven to 220C. Pour 4C water into a large saucepan, add the beans and 1 bay leaf and boil rapidly for 10 minutes. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 35-40 minutes or until the beans are tender. Add 1 large, finely chopped onion, 1 crushed garlic clove, 2 sliced celery sticks, 1tsp cumin, 1/2-1tsp chilli powder, 400g canned tomatoes, 1Tbsp tomato puree & 1tsp dried mixed herbs. Half cover the pan with a lid and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Stir in 1Tbsp lemon juice, 1 diced yellow capsicum, salt & pepper and simmer for another 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just tender.

Discard the bay leaf and spoon the mixture into a large baking or casserole dish. To make the topping, mix together 1 1/2C polenta, 1Tbsp wholemeal flour & 1tsp baking powder and whisk in 1 lightly beaten egg & 3/4C skim milk. Spread topping evenly over beans and bake for 20 minutes or until brown.

(Nutrition info – taken from 200 fat-free recipes: 399 calories/1675kj, 22.9g protein, 4.7g fat inc. 0.9g sat. fat, 11.6g fibre, 68g carbs)

2 thoughts on “Two ways with polenta

  1. glad you are feeling healthier and keeping up your new diet

    I love the sound of the polenta bake – have never seen polenta like that before – I hate cooking it on stove top and have taken to making it in the microwave but the oven method seems a good one

  2. Hi Joanna! It was a really quick way of doing it and pretty much foolproof… just don’t forget to cover it with foil because otherwise the liquid dries out before it can cook properly (not that I know that from experience of course ;) )… other than that, completely foolproof… haha…

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