For readers who noticed the large spread in our Sunday newspaper, including a cover story in the Lifestyles features section, over the weekend, it won't be a surprise to find a healthy, calorie-counting recipe in my farm recipe column this week.
Yep, the time has come in my life when I can see my 40th birthday heading toward me just off in the horizon.
But before facing my big 4-0 in August, I've already been facing a big oh-no with a belly that might even rival that of Santa Claus.
Well Christmas is over and the new year is here.
And since my waistline has become a victim of my newspaper deadlines (which have prevented me from the kind of daily exercise needed to stay trim), it's time once again to slim down.
Readers might recall I did a similar effort in the summer of 2005, and shared weekly installments in the newspaper about the ups and downs of losing weight. My efforts resulted in a 30-pound loss in just two months.
This time, I'm facing 50 pounds to lose in three months.
Since I love adventure and new opportunities to learn from, I'm part of a new approach for this weighty effort.
I was selected by registered nurse turned diet guru Seattle Sutton to be part of a national weight-loss contest which began Monday with an official "weigh-in" at WGN television studios in Chicago. I'm competing against nine other participants selected from among thousands.
For the next three months, I'm dining on only Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating cuisine, fresh-prepared meals, which I pick up twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays. And just like my other nine counterparts, I'm limited to just 1,200 calories per day.
As for my starting weight, fully clothed, the "official scale" registered 230 pounds.
That number was the bad news.
The number that was the good news on Monday was 78, because Monday marked Seattle Sutton's 78th birthday and our very first meeting. We exchanged gift copies of one another's books and my mother Peggy came along with me, eager to also meet Sutton.
Today, I'm sharing Seattle's once carefully guarded "secret" recipe for her trademark Acapulco Taco Pie, which ranks as the favorite of Cubs baseball legend Ron Santo, an extreme diabetic and celebrity spokesman for Seattle's program. According to my first five-week menu plan, I get to enjoy this flavorful find for my dinner next Thursday.
However, you get to enjoy it right away, courtesy of Seattle and her dedicated staff.
Cub Ron Santo's Favorite Acapulco Taco Pie
2-1/2 pounds ground turkey
3/4 cup chopped white onions
2-1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 cup diced green chili peppers, drained
1-3/4 cups skim milk
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons "quick" biscuit mix
3/4 cup egg substitute
1 cup diced tomatoes
6-1/4 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese
DIRECTIONS: Brown ground turkey and onions and drain. Stir in chili powder and green chili peppers. Place this meat mixture into a sprayed 9-inch by 13-inch (or a slightly smaller pan, if desired) baking pan. Beat milk with biscuit mix and egg substitute, until smooth. Pour this mixture into the casserole pan directly over meat layer. In a small bowl, mix together shredded cheese and tomatoes and scatter over top of casserole as the final layer. Bake at 350 degrees uncovered for 40 to 45 minutes, but checking casserole after the first 30 minutes to prevent over browning. Remove from oven once an inserted knife comes out clean. Cut and serve with chips and salsa. Unused portions refrigerate well. Makes 15 servings.
(Note: a 5-ounce slice contains 184 calories, 14.9 grams protein, 14.8 grams carbs, 6.5 grams fat, 574 mgs sodium, 1.65 grams fiber and 3.95 grams sugar)
* Recipe courtesy of Seattle Sutton and "The Seattle Sutton Solution: No Gimmicks" (2004 Amicus Creative Press $29.95)
The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 219.852.4327.