Monday, September 19, 2011

Back from Summer Vacation!

So I wasn't really on a vacation from Weight Watchers, but I had a busy summer- I celebrated my 40th birthday in May, I got married in June, I honeymooned in July, and took two vacations in August to Mammoth Lakes and Napa.  All great times, and all yummy food occasions.  But after they were over, I went back to my Weight Watcher basics and am proud to say I am still in my Lifetime weight goal range (barely!)

Now that summer is over, I have been cooking several fall dishes.  I roasted a turkey breast, have been making huge batches of Maple Pecan Granola, and today made an easy and delicious Pumpkin Mousse and a batch of homemade applesauce.  It's fall at my house, and autumn in my kitchen!  Here's a peak at what I've been eating:

Herb Roasted Turkey Breast (plated with roasted brussel sprouts and baby carrots)

2 1/2 pound turkey breast (leave skin on)
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp. fresh chopped rosemary, or 2 tsp. dried
1 tbsp. fresh chopped sage, or one tsp. dried
2 tsp. fresh thyme, or 1 tsp. dried
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  In small bowl, mix oil with all seasonings.  Rinse and pat dry turkey breast, placing in a roasting dish coated with non-stick spray.  Rub herbed oil mixture all over the turkey breast until well covered.  Place in oven and bake until meat thermometer reads 165 degrees, and when flesh is pierced with fork, juice runs clear.  When finished, remove from oven, cover with foil and let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Recipe found in Food Your Crave by Ellie Krieger.  If you use a bigger breast, just double the recipe. 
A 3 oz. serving = 3points plus (without skin)

I found the recipe for Maple Pecan Granola in the September issue of Cooking Light, and everyone loves it so much, that I quadruple it when I make it.  I love it in the mornings with  fat-free vanilla Greek yogurt and berries, or for dessert with homemade applesauce and lowfat vanilla ice cream- it's just as good as apple crisp!

Maple Pecan Granola

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 and 1/3 cup chopped pecans
4 egg whites
½ tsp. vanilla
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ cup pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 300°.  Cover two cookie sheets with aluminum foil, and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Combine oats and pecans in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl combine egg whites and vanilla; beat egg mixture until foamy.  Fold oat mixture into egg mixture.  Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in a small bowl.  Fold the sugar mixture into the oat mixture.  Fold in maple syrup.  Spread granola evenly over two cookie sheets and bake for 25 minutes, stirring once.  Remove from oven, stir to loosen and cool completely.  Keep fresh in air tight containers or plastic bags.  I count 2 tbsp. for 1 point.

My last recipe tonight comes from my awesome Weight Watchers leader, Gwen Taylor.  She had this Pumpkin Mousse recipe on a flip chart a couple of years ago so I wrote it down and have made it several times each fall.  It is so easy, so delicious, and because it's made with canned pumpkin which has a lot of fiber- it's very filling!  You could serve this to guests and they wouldn't even know it's low fat!

Pumpkin Mousse

1 15 oz. can of pureed pumpkin
1 lg. box of fat free, sugar free vanilla pudding
1 cup nonfat milk
1 8oz. container Low Cal Cool Whip
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

In medium bowl, mix pudding with milk, pumpkin and spices.  Mixture will be thick.  Fold in half of the container of Cool Whip (saving rest for topping when serving).  Makes four servings.

1 cup= 2 points plus

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

On the road again.

It's hard enough to do Weight Watchers and be successful when you're at home.  It gets ever more challenging when you travel for work.  It's been really busy at work this month, and I have travelled every week (this is why this is my first blog post in May!)

This week I am in Chicago.  I got off to a great start yesterday, went to the gym, walked to get a great salad to bring back to room for lunch, then enjoyed low carb appetizers at the business reception I attended.

This morning was awesome!  I went for a run along the Chicago waterfront, with my half marathon partner, Angie.  This run has been on my to do list for quite some time, and the weather was perfect- cool and breezy.  We started at the Drake Hotel, went up to the Oak Street Beach, then back to Navy Pier.  Angie snapped this along the way...

On my way back to the hotel I found a Trader Joe's and bought the ingredients to make my favorite breakfast- Trader Joe's Nonfat Vanilla Greek Yogurt and the Very Cherry Frozen Berry Blend.  I came back to the hotel, let the berries defrost while I went up to the gym for a little more strength training.  I came back to my room, and assembled my yogurt and berries- only I fished out just the cherries (my favorite!) and layered them with the vanilla yogurt.  Each bite makes me go mmmm!

Later I'm meeting my friend Angie for lunch, and plan to order my favorite salad- Tuna Nicoise.

Make it a great day!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Breakfast Berry Parfait.

I am in love with Greek Yogurt!  A lady at Weight Watchers first turned me on to it and now I eat it almost every day.  I love that one serving has the same amount of protein as two eggs, and now Trader Joe's has a "high fiber" version that has 3 grams of fiber.  My favorite flavor is the vanilla (I love that you can see the specks of vanilla) which I layer with a half cup of defrosted frozen berries from Trader Joe's- The Berry Cherry mix and 2 tbsp. of low fat granola.  My favorite bites are the ones with the cherries and that vanilla yogurt- that is such a classic flavor combination.

1 cup (yogurt cup, not measured cup) of Trader Joe's High Fiber nonfat vanilla yogurt (3pts.)
1/2 cup frozen berries, defrosted (0 pts.)
2 tbsp. low fat granola (I used Cascadian, which counts for one point)

4 points total- isn't it pretty?  :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

On The Road Again.

I have been traveling a lot this month, sorry there haven't been very many posts.  A couple of weeks ago I stopped at a Carl's Jr. to try one of their new Turkey Burgers.  While it tasted great, and was a good choice, it still cost me a lot of points. 

But it was good enough to make me crave another turkey burger, only this time I made it at home, and replaced the bun with organic butter lettuce leaves.  With summer and a wedding approaching, I'm cutting as many carbs as I can.  I made four 5 ounce patties out of one package of Extra Lean Ground turkey from Jenny O and made them according to a recipe I had in my Weight Watchers Momentum cook book.  I grilled them indoors and they came out awesome!

Turkey Burger and Potato "Chips".

Turkey Burgers:
1 20 oz. package of extra lean ground turkey by Jenny O.
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp. ketchup
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients by hand, and divide into four equal portions (on my scale each patty weighed 5.5 ounces with all ingredients incorporated).  Form into patties and pre-heat grill.  Spray with non-stick spray and grill 6-8 minutes on each side.  Build with desired toppings-  today I used butter lettuce, sliced tomato, 1/4 avocado sliced, yellow mustard and 1 tbsp. BBQ sauce.  With no bun it was messy, but it tasted so good!

Potato "Chips"- these look like a thick kettle chip, but really they're slices of baked potato that I crisp in a non-stick skillet with Pam.  I start by baking the potato in the microwave.  When cooked, remove and let cool for a few minutes.  When cool enough  to handle, cut in half length wise then slice.   Spray skillet and heat, cooking potatoes for about 3 minutes on each side.  Sprinkle with salt and serve with ketchup.  Tastes like french fries but much better for you.

Point Plus total- 4 points my my turkey burger patty, 2 pts for the avocado, 2 pts for 4 oz of potato- 8 points total.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Secretly Low Fat Red Velvet Cupcakes.

While in Santa Barbara this weekend for "spring break" we visited one of my favorite restaurants (The Palace Cafe) and made some of my favorite low fat recipes.  I brought spaghetti squash casserole, made whole wheat blueberry pancakes for breakfast one morning, and for dessert one night, my delicious Secretly Low Fat Red Velvet Cupcakes.  These are made just like the chocolate ones I shared once before- a box mix, 1 cup of water, and 1 cup of pureed pumpkin.  Then I frost them with a low fat cream cheese frosting.  They are so moist and yummy, no one knew they were low fat until I told them- and this included men, women and children!

Secretly Low Fat Red Velvet Cupcakes

1 box Red Velvet cake mix (I use Duncan Hines)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup water

1 8oz. package low fat cream cheese
1 box powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 12 cup cupcake pan with non-stick cooking spray.  In mixing bowl add cake mix, pumpkin and water.  Stir by hand until well mixed and no lumps are visible.  Spoon evenly into 12 cupcake spots, and bake 18-22 minutes.  Test with a toothpick.

For frosting, in a mixing bowl add room-temp, softened cream cheese, 1 tsp vanilla and one box of powdered sugar.  Mix with electric mixer and beat just until smooth.  Transfer frosting to a piping bag (or Ziploc bag with corner cut out) and pipe onto cooled cupcakes.  Decorate with red crystals if desired.

Each cupcake is 6 points.  These are really good, and can be a red light food (pun intended) so I bake them to share, making sure I only get one or two for myself.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Tomato, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Omelet

Sunday mornings I enjoy having a bigger breakfast like most.  But that doesn't have to mean that it's full of fat and calories.  The veggie drawers in my refrigerator had tomatoes, mushrooms, and spinach, and my cheese drawer had some low fat goat cheese and mozzarella cheese.  I also had one tablespoon left of one of my favorite condiments- Crema di Pepperoni by AG Ferrarro. It's a delicious roasted red bell pepper tapenade that I like to use on pizza, pasta, and in appetizers, I knew it would be great in an omelet too.

Tomato, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Omelet

3 egg whites
splash of nonfat milk
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes,
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 tbsp Crema di Pepperoni (roasted red bell pepper tapenade)
2 tbsp low fat goat cheese
1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves
2 tbsp shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
2 oz. polenta

Spray two non-stick skillets with no-stick spray.  In the larger one lightly saute the tomatoes and mushrooms.  When cooked, turn off heat, and turn on heat for smaller skillet.  Pour scrambled egg whites in to prepare omelet.  Flip and fill with mushroom and tomato mixture, and top with crema di pepperoni and goat cheese.  Close omelet and top with spinach and mozzarella cheese.  If serving with polenta, heat up next to omelet in the skillet- cover to steam spinach and warm polenta.  Transfer to plate and enjoy.

The Points Plus value is as follows, 1 point for the egg whites, 1 point for the red bell pepper sauce, 1 point for the goat cheese, 1 point for the mozzarella, and 2 points for the polenta- 6 points total, and servings of lean protein, whole grains, dairy and vegetables.  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Saturday Night Salmon.

Now salmon might sound boring on a Saturday night, but not when it's made this way, and enjoyed with a glass or two of pinot noir.  A friend of mine shared this recipe, and it is probably my favorite way to prepare salmon.  Had it not been a cold, rainy night we would have grilled this on the BBQ.  But it was, so we simply broiled it and it came out perfect.

Grilled Salmon with Dijon and Shallots

4 6oz. salmon fillets (center cut, skin on)
2 tbsp. minced shallots
1 tbsp. fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
3 tbsp. agave nectar or honey
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

For the sauce, mix all ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.  Spray grill (or foil if broiling) with non-stick cooking spray and lay the salmon skin side down over medium-high heat.  Spoon most of the sauce over the fish and grill with the lid closed.  Don't turn the fish, and grill 6-8 minutes.  Doneness depends on size of the fillets and how well you like your salmon cooked.  With lid closed the shallots will caramelize into the sauce and become sweet and mild.  When the fish is done, slide spatula between the fish and the skin, leaving the skin on the grill.

I usually serve this with roasted garlic potatoes and steamed broccoli, but this time had a 1/2 cup of creamy polenta and garlic sauteed broccoli with kosher salt and Parmesan cheese.  For the dinner shown on my plate I counted 9 points for the 6 oz. piece of salmon, 1 point for its sauce, 2 points for the polenta, and 1 point for the olive oil and cheese on the broccoli.  This dinner also delivered a serving of lean protein, a healthy oil, a whole grain, and a vegetable- you can't have a more complete meal than that!  Total was 13 points for dinner, and 8 points for my two glasses of pinot noir.  Good thing it's Saturday, I have 49 Points Plus Allowance to use this week!  Make it a great week!

Salty and Sweet Snacks.


I love to entertain and am always on the look out for low calorie appetizers.  Who doesn't love Spinach and Artichoke Dip?  I do and have a really killer recipe, but it calls for real butter, cream cheese, jack cheese, and Parmesan cheese- and spinach and artichokes.  It's delicious, but really high in fat and calories.  In the April issue of Cooking Light I came across a much lighter version and tried it.  It's creamy base is made of pureed white beans and low fat mayonnaise versus all that cheese and butter.  The beans give it more protein which makes it heartier and healthier.  I served it with toasted pita chips which I made myself, both recipes are below.

Artichoke, Spinach and White Bean Dip

1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise (I prefer Best Foods)
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground red pepper ( I used cayenne)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 15 ounce can of white beans, rinsed and drained (I used Bush's Cannellini beans which are white kidney)
1 14 ounce can baby artichoke hearts, drained and quartered (I actually used grilled artichoke hearts which I find in the produce section at Whole Foods- the grilled flavor really boosted the overall dip flavor.)
1 9 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry.
Cooking spray
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  place Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, peppers, garlic and beans in food processor and process until smooth.  Spoon into a medium bowl and stir in the artichokes and spinach.  Spoon the mixture into a 1 quart glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly and brown.  1/4 cup of dip equals 2 points.

To make pita chips, place Alternative Whole Wheat Pitas on a cookie sheet and spray with olive oil.  Sprinkle with preferred seasoning and salt and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.  Remove from oven and cut into triangles.  One whole pita equals 3 points.


In addition to entertaining, one of my biggest passions is to bake.  And one of my specialties are cakes.  I have awesome recipes for chocolate, red velvet and carrot- and have found a great way to make an easy, low fat version.  My indulgent cakes are made from scratch, but my easy, low fat versions all start with box mixes.  Then I simply add one cup of pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix) and one cup of water- stir and bake.  I got this recipe from a Weight Watcher meetings three years ago and make them often- it's my way of having cake and staying on plan!

Chocolate Cupcakes

1 box Pillsbury Moist Supreme Sugar Free Devil's Food cake mix (any chocolate cake box mix will work)
1 cup pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 cup water

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare cupcake pan (12 cupcakes) by spraying with non-stick spray (or lining with papers and spraying).  In medium mixing bowl mix cake mix, pumpkin and water.  Stir by hand and mix until smooth.  Fill each cupcake space evenly.  Bake for 18-22 minutes, and insert toothpick to make sure they are done.  Let cool and enjoy.  1 cupcake is 5 points.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Diner Food Done Right, A Healthy Tuna Melt.

One of my favorite splurge sandwiches is a classic Tuna Melt, served with French fries.  But they are so high in calories and fat that I rarely order them or make them at home.  I have a half of one a year at Brophy's Brothers in Santa Barbara, and they make it so delicious that it's worth every calorie (they use lots of real mayonnaise and a thick piece of Texas toast, grilled with butter- heaven!).

But I found a lower calorie, lower carbohydrate way to have it as often as I like- and today I was craving it.  I make my own low fat tuna salad, use low fat cheddar cheese and put it on a Whole Wheat Alternative Pita which I use as a pizza crust.  I first saw a Tuna Melt Pizza on the California Pizza Kitchen menu back in the 90s but they don't make it anymore.  So my version is also a great substitute for that item which is no longer available.  I know everyone likes their tuna salad a certain way, so whether you like onion or celery, put it in and count accordingly.  I like dill relish in my tuna salad and it's free!

Tuna Melt Pizza

1 Whole Wheat Alternative Pita (3 pts)
1/2 cup of tuna canned in water, drained (3 pts)
2 tbsp. low fat Best Foods mayonnaise (2 pts according to my WW calculator)
1 tbsp. dill pickle relish (0)
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes (0)
1/4 cup low fat shredded cheddar cheese (2 pts)

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.  Mix tuna with mayonnaise and relish and put down on pita.  Top with chopped tomatoes and cheddar cheese.  Bake 12-14 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly browned.  Cut into four pieces and enjoy!  10 points for the whole pizza and it includes a serving of whole grains, a lean protein and a dairy.  This one will fill you up and keep you satisfied all afternoon.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring colors on every plate!

I know spring is here because my favorite colors this week are pink and orange.  I pulled out my spring table cloth which has these colors, bought tulips in these colors, and today, cooked and ate these colors.

One of my favorite vegetables lately has been beets.  I didn't like these growing up, but in the last couple of years they have popped up on so many restaurant menus that I've come to love them.  So I made them at home, and they are pretty easy, and so gorgeous!  I usually just boil them, then toss in olive oil with a bit of salt, pepper, balsamic glaze and crumbled goat cheese, but this time I tweaked a Barefoot Contessa recipe and they turned out great, see below.

Jeweled Beets with Orange Vinaigrette

4 yellow beets
4 red beets
2 navel oranges
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. fresh squeezed orange juice
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
zest from two navel oranges

Start by boiling your beets in salted water for about 45-50 minutes.  The water should just cover the beets, and they'll be ready when you prick them with a fork and feel that they are tender crisp (fork should pierce the flesh, but not be mushy).  Drain, rinse and let cool.  When you can handle the beets, peel them, and dice them into half inch cubes, placing in a stainless steel bowl (anything else will stain). 

For the vinaigrette, zest both oranges and reserve in a small mixing bowl with 2 tbsp. of the juice.  Peel the oranges, and cut the sections into bite sizes, adding to the beets.  Add oil, sugar, salt, pepper and vinegar in bowl and mix well.  Pour over beets and oranges and toss well.  Let marinate for at least one hour...but the longer they sit, the better they taste.  Depending on the size of your beets, this makes about 4 cups, so I count each half cup serving for one point for the oil.

I tried another new recipe today at lunch which turned out quite well.  It was another tweaked recipe from the Barefoot Contessa (I love Ina!), oven baked Sweet Potato Fries.  This was really a gorgeous side dish to my roasted chicken with BBQ sauce and squash (seasoned with I Can't Believe it's Not Butter and dill) as you can see below.  (In the photo the fries are at 4 o'clock on my plate- they kind of look like carrots.) 

Now if you are a "crispy French fry snob"  (you know who you are) then these might not be for you.  The flavor is awesome, but they aren't crispy because they're not fried but they are much better for you.  I have enough leftover for tomorrow's lunch with a Boca Burger.

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries

2 large sweet potatoes
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. smoked paprika (if you don't have this spice, go get it- it's awesome!)
1/8 tsp. chili powder
few shakes of cayenne pepper (add more if you like the heat).

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.  Peel your sweet potatoes and cut into fries that are half the size of a "steak fry".  Spray a baking sheet with Pam, and place potatoes on sheet.  Pour olive oil on top, and toss by hand to make sure all are well covered.  Spread out on sheet to make sure they're all even and on the sheet.  in small mixing bowl mix brown sugar with all spices.  Toss by hand over all potatoes.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Pull from oven, flip with spatula and bake for another 5-15 minutes.  Enjoy!  A 3oz. serving is 2 points for the potato and 1 for the oil, so 3 points total.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spice up your Spring!

I love using fresh herbs and spices when I cook, it really livens up a meal.  Today I added a generous sprinkle of cinnamon to my oatmeal, fresh mint to a bowl of berries, and a lot of warm spices to a bowl of chili.   On a cold, rainy night cumin, chili powder, oregano, and paprika really warm you up and fill you up.

Cinnamon Oatmeal with Maple and Fruit

1 organic Braeburn apple, peeled and diced
1/4 cup dry oatmeal
1/2 cup water
generous sprinkle of cinnamon
2 tbsp. Maple Grove Farms sugar free maple syrup
1 tbsp. raisins
1 tbsp. dried cranberries

In a microwave safe bowl, add half of the chopped apple (I eat the other half while my oatmeal's cooking), dry oatmeal, water and cinnamon.  Microwave for 90 seconds, or until cooked.  Add in maple syrup and dried fruit, stir until well mixed.  

Points plus value is 3 points, 2 for the oatmeal, 1 for the dried fruit.  (Apple and cinnamon are free, and the syrup only has 15 calories so also free.)

Minted Berries

2 cups fresh assorted berries- strawberries (halved or quartered depending on how large), blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries
1 ttbsp. simple syrup (1 tbsp. very hot water and 1 tbsp. sugar- stir until sugar is melted)
2 tbsp. chopped fresh mint.

Place berries in bowl, and pour simple syrup over all.  Sprinkle fresh mint on top and stir.  Let sit for one hour and serve.  Garnish with a mint sprig.  One cup is free.

Kickin' Chili

3 cloves chopped garlic
1 pound lean ground beef (90/10 or leaner)
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 red onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 large cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
2 15 oz. cans tomato sauce
1 small can chopped green chiles
1 cup Cabernet wine
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. cocoa powder (or cocoa chile)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. paprika

Brown meat in large skillet with onion and garlic, then drain fat off.  Transfer to large stock pot and cook a few minutes over medium-high heat adding in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, beans, chiles, and all spices.  Simmer and stir for at least one hour on low heat.  Adjust seasoning as you like, and serve with chopped onion and shredded low fat cheddar cheese.  This makes a lot, so have empty containers on hand so you can freeze leftovers.  I count one cup for 6 points plus (but I haven't calculated it on etolls).

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Portobello and Provolone Patty Melt

With a couple of portobello mushroom caps in the refrigerator I was looking for a new recipe to try for lunch.  I scored a home run with this one.  I clipped it from the October 2010 edition of Cooking Light, but left out the meat patty, and served it open face.  We happened to have dark beer leftover from St. Patrick's Day and rye bread and provolone so I was ready to rock.

Portobello and Provolone Patty Melt

2 portobello mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
2 tsp. olive oil
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. all purpose flour
1/4 cup dark beer
2 slices rye bread
2 slices provolone cheese
4 tbsp. shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add portobello mushrooms, onion, salt, and pepper and saute for 5-7 minutes covered.  Sprinkle flour over mushroom mixture; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in beer and cook 30 seconds or until thick.  Remove from heat and keep warm.

Toast rye bread slices and spray with I Can't Believe it's Not Butter.  Pre-heat broiler, and line cookie sheet with foil, spray with non-stick spray.  Spoon half of the mixture on each piece of toasted rye bread, and top each with 2 tbsp. mozzarella cheese and 1 slice of provolone cheese on top.  Place in broiler and cook until cheese is browned and melted, 2-3 minutes.

With the meaty portobello mushrooms and extra cheese, you'll have plenty of protein and won't miss the meat patty.  You could add a ground beef patty or a Boca Burger patty to make this a bigger meal.  As served above, I counted 2 points for the slice of rye bread, 1 for the olive oil, 1 for the beer and flour, and 2 for the cheese- mushrooms and onions are free.  6 points plus value per piece.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Breakfast is Served.

These days Sundays are my long run days as I'm preparing to run the La Jolla half marathon on April 17th.  Since I'm getting in a lot of cardio on Sunday mornings, afterwards I enjoy a bigger breakfast.  Today I am making Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes with Blueberry Compote.  I'll use the same Whole Foods Whole Wheat Pancake Mix that I used to make the apple cinnamon pancakes previously posted, but this time I added in fresh blueberries, and made a compote to top them with (thank you  Joanna for the idea/recipe) .  They were not only healthy and delicious, but they were gorgeous too! 

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes with Blueberry Compote

For pancakes:
1 cup Whole Foods Organic Whole Wheat Buttermilk pancake mix
1 egg white
2/3 cup of milk
whisk three ingredients together, just until mixed and set aside.
1/2 cup fresh blueberries (add by hand when on the griddle)

For blueberry compote:

1/2 cup of fresh blueberries, rinsed
1/3 cup sugar free maple syrup (I prefer Maple Grove Farms, 30 calories for 1/4 cup)
2 tbsp. berry syrup
1 tbsp. corn starch

In small saucepan over medium heat, add 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1 tbsp. of berry syrup and corn starch and whisk well.  Break up all bits of cornstarch while whisking, and mix just until it starts to thicken.  Remove from heat, add in fresh blueberries, and set aside.   Add remaining 2 tbsp. of maple syrup and tbsp. of berry syrup- keep warm until ready to serve.

Spray griddle with non-stick spray and pre-heat to medium/ medium-high heat.  Pour batter on in about 3 tbsp. servings to make three four inch pancakes.  Top each with about 10-12 blueberries to make sure each bite has a berry in it, see below.  Cook 3-4 minutes then flip.  Cook until done, stack on to plate (spritz with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray if desired) and top with 1/2 of the blueberry compote.  Eat while hot!

Points Plus value, 2 points per pancake, 2 points for compote- total for three pancakes and compote, 8.  This breakfast also delivers a serving of whole grain and half a serving of fruit.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday Night Spaghetti.

I love a big bowl of spaghetti with a rich meat sauce just as much as anyone, but I love it even more when I know it's good for me too.  My original meat sauce recipe used ground beef, pork, and veal, but these days I use lean ground turkey and turkey sausage and it tastes great!  I've also made the switch from white pasta to whole wheat- when will Weight Watchers Smart Ones and Lean Cuisines make this change too?!?!?!

This recipe is made in a large stock pot, so make sure you have plenty of containers for freezing leftovers.  There's nothing better than making a homemade pasta dinner in 15 minutes by just thawing sauce and boiling noodles!

Italian Turkey Meat Sauce

2 green bell peppers
1 medium red onion
6 cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 package extra lean ground turkey meat (20 oz, Jenny O brand is preferred)
2 links hot Italian seasoned turkey sausages, casings removed (Jenny O preferred)
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
2 large cans crushed tomatoes (San Marzano brand is preferred)
3 cans tomato sauce (San Marzano brand is preferred)
3 small cans tomato paste (San Marzano brand is preferred)
¼ cup sugar (optional)

Dice peppers, onions and garlic and put in bottom of large stockpot.  Add olive oil and sauté for five minutes over medium-high heat.  Add all meat and brown.  Reduce heat to low and add all tomato products and sugar.  Add seasonings to taste.  Simmer at least two hours, as long as seven hours.  Remove bay leaves before serving.

Serve over your favorite pasta, count 4 points plus value per half cup.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Stuffed Spinach and Mushroom Pizza

Growing up in the Napa Valley was a beautiful place, but quite boring for a teenager.  Once we got our driver's licenses like most other teenagers we started driving into "the city".  We'd go to San Francisco a lot, as well as Marin County and Berkeley.  In Berkeley I fell in love with deep dish pizza.  Having never been to Chicago at that point I didn't know it was that popular or delicious, but Zachary's Pizza changed my life.  It's still ranked as the Best Pizza in the Bay Area, and if you ever go to NoCal be sure to check this spot out.  The stuffed spinach and mushroom is their signature, and worth the 45 minute wait once you place your order.

About this time I really started to get into cooking too.  As high schoolers my mom made my brother and I cook one family dinner a week.  We only had one cookbook that I can remember (a Pillsbury Classic) and one well worn recipe card box.  After making some of my mom's recipes, I wanted to try some new things.  So I went to the public library and went to the cookbook section.  It was there that I found a cookbook with a recipe for stuffed pizza!  I hand copied the recipe, came home and made it and it actually turned out OK (the sauce and filling were perfect, but my homemade pizza crust was a little tough).  Over the years I have perfected it, and tonight I made it with a whole wheat crust for the first time.  I have always made a scratch crust which takes a long time, but I've found the Trader Joe's pizza dough is quite good.  So I saved some time on dough, used organic produce and made this fabulous pizza. 

Stuffed Spinach and Mushroom Pizza

1 pkg. Trader Joe's whole wheat pizza dough

1 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes, peeled
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil (fresh really makes the difference here)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 clove of garlic, crushed and minced
1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

3 oz. fresh spinach leaves, washed, dried with stems removed and roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 1/2 cups freshly grated mozzarella cheese (grating your own cheese makes a difference too)

To start, remove pizza dough from package and set out to rest on floured surface for 20 minutes. 

To make sauce, drain liquid from tomatoes and crush by hand.  Place in medium sized bowl, and add remaining ingredients.  Stir and set aside.

In separate large bowl, combine chopped spinach leaves, sliced mushrooms and shredded mozzarella cheese.  Toss by hand to make sure well mixed.

Once ready to assemble the pizza, pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.  Using a nine inch shallow cake pan, or an 8 inch deep cake pan, spray well with olive oil.  Cut dough into two pieces, one piece being 1/4 and the other being 3/4 of the dough.  Take the larger piece and either roll out with a rolling pin, or hand stretch and toss until 2 inches larger than your cake pan.  Place dough over the cake pan, and secure up over the sides to hold up.  Fill with all spinach, mushroom and cheese mixture.  Roll out small piece of dough until just the size of the pan and place on top.  Crimp the pieces together, and make slits on top crust.  It's OK if the center is higher than the sides, once the spinach wilts it will level out. 

Bake pizza on lowest rack for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and set on counter.  Using a slotted spoon (to drain excess liquid) cover pizza with sauce, but don't spread it to the edge.  Put pizza back in oven on the highest rack and bake for another 15-20 minutes until crust is golden brown.

Remove from oven and let rest for a couple of minutes.  Remove whole pizza from pan and place on large cutting board.  Cut with serrated knife and serve while hot.  ENJOY!

Points Plus Value for whole pizza is 42 points. (counting crust, oil and Parmesan cheese in the sauce, and mozzarella cheese.)  I don't have e-tools, so you may want to double check my estimate.  If cut and served in 6 slices, 7 points per slice.  If cut and served in 8 slices, 5.25 points per slice, and 10.5 points for 1/4 of the pizza.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Great day for Grilling!

I don't grill very much as this is where my fiancee David is the master.  But, I do love firing up the grill and putting all kinds of vegetables on it.  And since it is gorgeous today, and I had portabellos in the refrigerator, it's a perfect day to have my ultimate Grilled Vegetable Sandwich for lunch.  I found this recipe two years ago in Cooking Light, but have made it lighter and better by using an Oroweat Sandwich Thin for my bread, and boosting the flavor with pesto and goat cheese.  Trust me, this is one of those recipes you will make over and over again.

Grilled Vegetable Sandwich

For vegetable marinade:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced

Suggested vegetables: (for 2 sandiwches)

2 Portabello mushroom caps
1/2 bell pepper, any color, cut vertically
1/2 red onion, cut in thick slices

Additional Ingredients:

Whole Wheat Oroweat Sandwich Thins
goat cheese
kale pesto (recipe shared in previous post, or substitute with fresh chopped basil)
balsamic glaze, optional (I like the Rachel Ray brand best and find it at Ralph's)
field greens
cherry tomatoes
balsamic Dijon vinaigrette

For vegetables:  Prep and cut all vegetables and place in a large Ziploc bag.  In a small bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and garlic.  Mix well and pour into bag.  Remove air, seal bag and toss to thoroughly coat all vegetables.  Marinate at least 5 minutes.  Meanwhile prep (spray with non-stick grill spray, or rub a bit of olive oil on) and pre-heat your grill to medium-high heat (or if weather doesn't permit, you could roast these in the oven.).  When grill is ready, lay down all vegetables on grill, and discard leftover marinade and bag (recycle!)  Cover and grill for about 5 minutes. Open and turn, grilling for another 3-5 minutes.  Portabello mushrooms may take an additional 2-3 minutes if they are large.

Now you're ready to assemble.  Toast your Oroweat Sandwich Thin and spread 1 Tbsp. of goat cheese on one half, and 1 tbsp. of kale pesto on the other half (or lay down shredded basil).  Stack Portabello on the bottom, flat stem side up.  Lay onions in cavern of mushroom, then lay sliced bell pepper strips on top.  Top with toasted Sandwich Thin top and serve with one cup of field greens, 1/4 cup halved cherry tomatoes and 1 tbsp of balsamic vinaigrette.  This is so good you will want to gobble it up, but slow down and enjoy every bite, this is so good!

Points Plus Value is 6 for the sandwich and salad made as shown (3 for the Sandwich Thin, 1 pt for the goat cheese and kale pesto, and 1 for the olive oil that the vegetables were marinated in, and 1 for the salad dressing on the field greens).  It also delivers a serving of whole grains, a healthy oil and 3 servings of vegetables.

Since it is so beautiful today, I'm off to walk my dog!  Have a great day!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Three Square Meals... in bowls.

It's been cold and rainy this week, which has been making me crave warm, comfort foods.  It was really cold this morning, so when I got home from the gym not only was I chilly, I was ravenous.  I made a delicious bowl of Apple Cranberry Oatmeal with a side of scrambled egg whites that really hit the spot and kept me full.  For lunch I went back to that fabulous Spinach Salad with balsamic chicken, almonds, cranberries and goat cheese, and for dinner I had the steak and potatoes dinner leftovers, and ended with a scrumptious bowl of Braised Red Cabbage. 

Last weekend we had lunch at Houston's, and on the side of my veggie burger patty (the best veggie burger anywhere) I ordered the seasonal vegetable- Braised Red Cabbage with crumbled goat cheese.  It was so delicious, so when the server cleared my plate I asked what the main ingredients were.  She said balsamic vinaigrette and brown sugar.  Perfect, I went to the web and found Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage at which was very similar.  With a few tweaks it was more WW friendly.

Since I've already posted the salad recipe, here's my oatmeal and braised red cabbage recipes.

Apple Cranberry Oatmeal

1/4 cup dry oatmeal (Quaker quick-cooking 2 pts.)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup chunky apple sauce (no sugar added, I like the Trader Joe's brand best 1 pt)
1 tbsp. dried cranberries (1/2 pt)
2 tbsp. sugar free maple syrup (Maple Farms, 1/2 pt)
few shakes of cinnamon

Put dried oatmeal and water in microwave safe bowl and cook accordingly.  Add in all other ingredients and stir- delicious!

Braised Red Cabbage

1 head of red cabbage, chopped
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
6 tbsp. brown sugar
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar

In bottom of large pan place oil and butter, and turn heat to medium high.  When butter is melted, add cabbage and saute 5 minutes until it's slightly wilted.  Then add brown sugar, toss to coat, followed by balsamic vinegar.  Stir, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low, simmering for 30-35 minutes.  Remove from heat and enjoy.  I estimate 2 pts per 1/2 cup.  To make it out of this world, top with 1 tbsp of crumbled goat cheese.

Have a great weekend and look for my Oscar party post!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Meat and Potatoes.

I know what you're can you follow a diet plan and have meat and potatoes?  Well I do, and did, twice today!  My lunch was "Burgers and Fries" which I made my way with Boca Burger patties, and skillet potatoes, while my fabulous dinner (thanks honey for cooking the steak) was medium-rare top sirloin, roasted potatoes with Madeira mushrooms and brocollini.  I know you're supposed to eat light at dinner, but tonight I ate like a queen! 

"Burgers and Fries"

2 Boca Burger patties (2 pts each)
non-stick spray
1/2 cup sliced onions
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
2 tbsp. lowfat shredded cheddar cheese (1 pt)
3 oz. baked potato (1 pt)
1 tbsp. ketchup
1 tbsp. bbq sauce (1 pt for both sauces combined)

I start by prepping my veggies and my skillets.  I spray a large and a small skillet with non-stick spray.  I slice my onions and mushrooms and put them in the large skillet on medium heat. I slice the baked potato and place that in the small skillet over medium heat- and cover both.  The steam adds moisture and speed the cooking time.  After a couple of minutes, flip the potatoes and turn to low heat.  Stir the onions and mushrooms and spread to the outside of the pan.  In the empty center, spray again and place two Boca burger patties- cover and cook 2 minutes.  Lift lid, flip and cook the other side for 2 more minutes.  Turn off heat, and move some of the onion and mushroom mixture to the top of your Boca patties, and  top each with a tbsp. of lowfat shredded cheddar.  Cover for one minute, grab your plate and condiments- you're ready to eat!  7 points.  You could always skip the second patty and toast an Orowheat sandwich thin for only one more point.  Another variation is to serve Ore-Ida Golden Crinkle Cut french fries- 12 are only 2 points ( though I haven't calculated them on the new points plus plan.

Steakhouse Supper

4 oz. top sirloin (5 pts)
1 tsp. oil ( 1 pt.)
3 oz. roasted potatoes (today I bought a medley from Trader Joe's- purple, red and Yukon gold- 1 pt.)
1 tsp. olive oil (1 pt.)
1 cup brocollini
1 tsp. olive oil (1 pt.)
1/2 cup Madeira mushrooms
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp. olive oil (1 pt.)

I started by pulling the steak out of the fridge to come to room temperature, and prepping my veggies.  For the potatoes, I quartered them, tossed them all with 1 tbsp. olive oil, sprinkled them with kosher salt and clipped some fresh rosemary overall.  I put them on a cookie sheet lined with foil and sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and roasted them at 350 degrees for about 40-45 minutes.

For the brocollini, I rinsed it, trimmed it (2 pkgs from Trader Joe's will serve two, as I really only like the tops) and put 2 tsp of olive oil in a non-stick skillet along with two cloves of garlic, minced.  Heat the oil, put the somewhat wet brocollini in the pan when heated, cover to cook for 2 minutes.  When al dente, turn off the heat, season with salt and pepper.

For the mushrooms (1 pkg of organic button mushrooms from Trader Joe's), I brushed them and halved them. Next, mince 1 small shallot.  In a saute pan, add 1 tsp of butter and 1 tsp of olive oil.  When hot, add the shallots and cook for one minute.  Add the mushrooms and cover and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Then add 1/4 cup of Madeira wine.  Simmer the mushrooms for another 5 minutes.

For the steak, season as you like, prepare a cast iron skillet (rub with canola oil and heat) and sear steak for 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare.  Once cooked, move to cutting board and let rest for a couple of minutes.  Meanwhile, plate your veggies (3 oz. potatoes, 1 cup or half of brocollini, 1/2 cup of mushrooms) and cut and weigh 4 oz. of meat.  Enjoy!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Whole Grain Apple Pancakes, Spaghetti Squash Casserole and Salmon

I made three fabulous recipes today, two of them new, and the other a favorite I've made many times.

For breakfast I started with Whole Grain Apple Pancakes.  I had been craving pancakes since last fall, but never opened the mix until today.  I used the Whole Foods brand of Whole Wheat Pancake Mix and made it as follows:


1 cup Whole Foods Organic Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancake mix
2/3 cup organic skim milk
1/4 cup chunky applesauce (no sugar added, I use Trader Joe's)
1 egg white
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 apple (I used an organic Braeburn)
1/4 Maple Farms sugar free syrup
1 shake cinnamon

For pancakes, mix all ingredients until well blended and set aside.   For topping, peel apple and slice thin.  Place in small bowl with 1 tbsp of water and steam in microwave (covered) for 45 minutes.  Remove from microwave, pour off water and top with a sprinkle of cinnamon and maple syrup.  Stir.

Prepare griddle with non-stick spray and heat to medium high.  Pour 3 tbsp. of mix to form 1 4 inch size pancake, cooking three at a time.  When first three are done, place on plate, spray with I Can't Believe it's Not Butter and top with all of apple mixture.  7 Points Plus per serving, with a serving of fruit and whole grains.

The new one was a Spaghetti Squash Casserole.  This is my favorite dish at True Food Kitchen right now and I wanted to try it at home.  So I did, and it came out fantastic.  I made it for dinner last night, but it was even better leftover today for my lunch.


1 whole spaghetti squash
2 medium sized zucchini
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic
1 28oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with healthy oil cooking spray (canola or olive).  Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds.  Place cut side down on foil and bake for 30-50 minutes, depending on size of squash.  Set timer for 30 minutes, and check.  Add time until done. Test with knife for doneness- tip should easily pierce the skin when done.  Pull from oven, turn over and let cool for a few minutes.

While squash is baking, smash and slice garlic.  In medium sauce pan, over medium high heat, heat 2 tsp. of olive oil, and when hot add in garlic.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, then add in can of crushed tomatoes.  Let heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Julienne both zucchini, discarding the skins.

When squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out flesh (which will look like broken spaghetti) and place in large mixing bowl.  Add in julienned zucchini, tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese and stir to mix.  Spray a 9x13 inch glass pan with healthy oil spray and pour vegetable mixture in.  Top with 1 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese and bake 25 minutes uncovered.  Dish may be a bit watery, so serve with a slotted spoon.  Makes 8 servings.  Projected Points Plus value, 2 per serving.

For dinner tonight I made this fabulous salmon recipe which I served on a bed of wilted spinach with steamed carrots and baked potatoes.  I also found this recipe last year in Cooking Light, in a McCormick spice ad.  It makes for a healthy, gorgeous and colorful plate.


1/4 cup orange juice
2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp. dried thyme leaves, divided
2 pounds salmon fillets
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. grated orange peel
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 bag spinach leaves

Prepare salmon by mixing orange juice, 2 tbsp of the oil and 1 tsp of the thyme in a small bowl.  Rinse salmon fillets and place in glass dish.  Add marinade: turn to coat well.  Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes or longer for extra flavor.

In a separate small bowl, mix sugar, paprika, cinnamon, orange peel, remaining tsp of thyme and sea salt.  Remove salmon from marinade and place on sprayed foil lined baking pan.  Discard any remaining marinade.  Rub top of salmon evenly with smoked paprika mixture.

Roast salmon in pre-heated 400 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.  meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tsp of olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat.  Add spinach, cook and stir 2 min. or until wilted.  Serve salmon over spinach.

Hope your week is off to a great start!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Italian Dinner Boosted.

I'm always on the look out for a new idea, and on Friday night I found one.  We were eating dinner at my favorite restaurant where I love to order the Tuscan Kale Salad followed by the Spaghetti Squash Casserole (tackling that next week).  But, my fiancee ordered something even better- Ricotta Ravioli served in KALE Pesto Sauce!  What a great idea, so  I took my beloved Weight Watcher Pesto Sauce recipe and "boosted" it by shorting the basil leaves and adding in kale leaves.  I can't taste the difference, but my body should notice a difference.  Kale is one of the best foods you can eat, and the more the better.  For dinner tonight I made my delicious Shrimp Pesto Stir Fry and served it with a side of Eggplant Unparmesan, so delicious!  Here are the recipes for all three:

Kale Pesto Sauce

1 medium bunch of washed basil leaves (about 3 cups, I find the best at Trader Joe's)
2 cups kale leaves (washed, with mid ribs removed)
3 tbsp. pine nuts
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. water
3 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:  place all ingredients except for the cheese, and pulse until well blended.  Add in cheese and puree.  3 tbsp. are worth 2 points plus.  Store in an air tight container, with a piece of saran wrap laid right on top of sauce.  Limiting the air contact will keep it from browning.  Can also be stored in the freezer.  I use this sauce for several different meals- as a sauce for pasta, as pizza sauce (with sliced roma tomato, sundried tomato, mushroom, goat cheese and mozzarella) as a spread for a grilled vegetable sandwich and more. 

Shrimp Pesto Stir Fry

1 lb. raw shrimp, washed, peeled, and deveined with tails removed.
2 tsp. olive oil
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms (bella or button)
1 roma tomato, chopped
3 tbsp. Pesto Sauce
2 tbsp. chicken stock or white wine
1 tbsp. Parmesan cheese

In a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, saute the mushrooms in the olive oil for three minutes uncovered.  Then add shrimp and cook for another three minutes.  Add pesto sauce, chicken broth (or wine) and add tomatoes last.  Cook until all shrimp are pink and thoroughly cooked (about 2 minutes.)  Turn heat off and finish with the sprinkling of Parmesan Cheese.  Makes two large servings.  I built my serving by measuring and weighing the cooking shrimp in my serving bowl (6 oz, 3 points) and half of the veggies, sauce and cheese- another point for the olive oil, 2 for the pesto and Parmesan.  5 points total.  Serve by itself, or over noodles.

Who doesn't love Eggplant Parmesan?  I sure do, but the way it's usually cooked- breaded and fried, is so unhealthy and loaded in calories- and you really can't taste the eggplant.  I found this recipe in one of my weekly guides from Weight Watchers a couple of years ago and have made it often ever since.  Once you try it I bet it will be one or your favorites too.

Eggplant UNParmesan

1 whole eggplant, sliced into about 16 slices (this will make four nice "stacks")
healthy cooking oil spray
garlic salt
1 cup marinara sauce (I prefer Trader Joe's organic marinara)
8 large basil leaves, julienned
1/2 cup low fat mozzarella cheese

Pre-heat brolier.  Place a sheet of foil on a cookie sheet, and spray with healthy cooking oil spray.  Place the eggplant slices on the sprayed foil, and spray them with oil too.  Sprinkle garlic salt over all, and broil for about 2-3 minutes.  When very golden brown, pull from broiler, and turn each slice.  Broil other side for 2-3 minutes, but don't spray or salt.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 8 inch square glass pan with healthy oil spray and spread 2 tbsp. of marinara across the bottom.  Take the four largest slices of broiled eggplant and place in pan.  Top each with 1 tbsp. of marinara and half of the basil leaves.  Stack next four largest eggplant slices and top each with 1 tbsp. of marinara and 1 tbsp. of low fat mozzarella.  Stack next four largest eggplant slices and top with 1 tbsp of marinara and the rest of the basil leaves.  Stack last four slices and top with remaining marinara and top each with 1 tbsp of low fat mozzarella.  Bake covered with foil for 25 minutes, then remove foil and bake for another 5 minutes.  Each stack is only 2 points, and so delicious!  Have one stack as a side to a protein, or two stacks as a meal served with salad.  You won't miss the old eggplant parmesan anymore, trust me!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Eating healthy on the road.

As a business traveler, eating healthy on the road is my biggest challenge.  I learned early this year, that when I manage my travel (schedule, food, etc) I have success.  When I'm at conferences or meetings where I don't manage my schedule or get to order my own food is when it's really difficult to do well.

This is my third day of travel this week and I've done pretty well so far.  Sorry, I haven't had the nerve to whip out my camera in a restaurant to photograph my plate yet, but I will.  Tonight I'm at a Kimpton Hotel and just discovered their Travel Healthy program.  It's a series of videos on the TV hosted by Joy Bauer with in room workouts, suggested menus for dining out, and helpful tips.  There is also an in-room dining menu that has fiber, fat, protein and carbohydrates listed on four menu selections per meal time- this is so awesome!  Alas I did not discover this until I had returned to my room after ordering sushi takeout.  But that's OK, I'll save it for next time.

When I travel I try to eat as much seafood as I can.  It's high in protein, low in fat, and something I don't cook that often at home.  For lunch I had a gorgeous piece of grilled salmon served with brussel sprouts, mushrooms and sweet potatoes (menu had all dietary calculations listed.)  It was delicious, and good for me- I never eat enough salmon.

Tonight I ordered a Shrimp Spring Roll and a Rock and Roll Sushi roll with three piece nigiri of ahi, salmon, and mackerel. 

The spring roll had a generous portion of avocado, so I estimated it to be 5 points, and the sushi I am counting 4 points.  It includes a serving of vegetables, a serving of healthy oil (avocado) and l lean protein.  I also bought a container of organic strawberries in case I wanted something sweet later on, and another serving of fruit.  I used low sodium soy sauce, and earned activity points walking around to get it.

Now I'm starting an in room movie and relaxing.  Enjoy your night!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"Stir Fry"...

So while I love to cook, I HATE to dishes.  "Stir Frys" are my go to recipes cooked in one pan.  But there's a second strategy at play as well, I really limit my carbohydrates too (noodles, tortillas, bread, etc).  I can achieve both of these with meals I call "Stir Frys".  You've seen my Teriyaki Tofu Stir Fry which has a classic Teriyaki flavor, but I do other stir frys that do not have Asian flavors.  I made two of them today, check them out. 
Broccoli, Bean and Bacon Stir Fry (lunch)

This recipe is an adapted version of a recipe I found last year in Cooking Light.  The original called for broccoli rabe and regular bacon, but I have been substituting with regular broccoli and turkey bacon, and today I got even leaner with Canadian bacon and it was just as good.  I make two servings out of this one recipe:

2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil (2 pts)
6 slices Canadian Bacon, chopped (Trader Joe's, slices are about 3-4 inches across, 30 cal and 1 gram of fat for three slices) (2 pts)
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups broccoli florets
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, slices
1 cup garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed) (4 pts)
1/8 tsp. of kosher salt
1/8 tsp. of freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese (2 pts)

Directions:  In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, cook onion and bacon in olive oil for 3 minutes.  Add in all remaining ingredients except for cheese, cover and cook for 3 more minutes.  Toss to combine, and sprinkle cheese over top.  Remove heat and cover for one more minute to let cheese melt, then serve in two bowls.  5 points per serving with 2 vegetable servings, 1 healthy oil and 2 lean proteins.

Chicken Fajita Stir Fry (dinner)

This recipe uses all the protein, vegetables, and seasonings of fajitas, minus the tortillas.

6 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast meat,cut into strips (Raw, 6 pts)
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil (2 pts)
1 cup sliced onion
1 cup sliced bell pepper ( I used red and yellow, but any color is fine)
1/4 cup water
2 tsp. McCormick Chicken Fajita Seasoning (this comes in a packet which I find among the taco seasoning, etc.  I only use 2 tsp, because each one has 320 mg. of sodium!)
1/2 cup pico de gallo
4 Tbsp. low fat shredded cheddar cheese ( 2 pts)
4 Tbsp nonfat Greek yogurt or sour cream (1 pt)

Directions:In a large non stick skillet over medium-high heat, saute onion, bell pepper and chicken in olive oil for 3-5 minutes- covered.  Make sure chicken is cooked, then sprinkle with fajita seasoning, add the water to the pan, stir well, cover and cook for two more minutes.  Transfer to two serving bowls, and top each with 1/4 cup fresh pico de gallo, cheddar cheese and Greek yogurt.  5.5 points per serving.  For two more points, wrap it all in a whole wheat Tortilla Factory tortilla (12 grams of fiber), and for one more point, top this all off with 2 tbsp. guacamole.  Without the tortilla and guacamole, track 2 lean proteins, 3 vegetable servings, and 1 healthy oil.

Now that I've shared these, guess where I'm headed- to do my dishes!  Have a good night and look for my Shrimp Pesto Stir Fry next week.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Comments are enabled.

Hi everyone-  Since I'm new at blogging, I didn't know I had to enable the comments, but it's open now, so please feel free to post any and all comments if you'd like.  Have a great night!

Look Familiar? Restaurant Recipes made healthier.

I read this morning that the FDA officially withdrew its federal requirement to make national restaurant chains add nutritional information to their menus.  As a Weight Watcher I was looking forward to this as dining out is always a challenge, and the more I know, the more I succeed. 

Since I do dine out a lot, I love to recreate recipes at home, only make them more healthy, and points friendly.  Maybe you recognized my first posted recipe for BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad from California Pizza Kitchen?  I know their version has a lot more calories and fat, but now I have a healthy version that lets me enjoy it more often.

Here are two other salads that I've recreated after having them at restaurants.

Tuscan Kale Salad from True Food Kitchen.

For one serving:
2 cups organic kale leaves
1-2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. fresh minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
hot red pepper flakes to taste
1 tbsp. panko bread crumbs (whole wheat preferred)
2 tsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Start by preparing your kale.  Wash and pat dry, then remove the midribs (the big stalk down the length of the leaf).  Julienne your leaves into bite size lengths and place into a medium mixing bowl.  For the dressing, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Pour over kale leaves and toss.  Place in serving bowl and sprinkle panko crumbs and Parmesan cheese.  Taste, and adjust seasoning as needed.  (I personally love an extra bit of lemon juice- makes it so bright!) 

Don't be scared to make this because it has raw kale in it.  I'm sure you've tried it before and didn't like it, but I am telling you, this recipe is so good- and SO GOOD FOR YOU!  Kale is one of the best ingredients for you, and you know you're not eating enough of. This serving delivers two servings of vegetables, and two servings of healthy oil.  3 points for the whole bowl!

This next salad is the one I took to the Superbowl party on Sunday, but had the leftovers for dinner last night.  It was actually better the next night.

Chopped Italian Salad from California Pizza Kitchen

1 cup iceberg lettuce leaves, julienned
1 cup romaine lettuce leaves, julienned
2 tbsp. basil leaves, julienned
2 oz. fat free smoked turkey breast (I use lunch meat), chopped (2 pts)
4 slices Gallo low fat Italian salami, chopped (1 point)
1 Roma tomato, chopped
1/4 cup garbanzo beans (liquid reserved), chopped (1 point)
2 tbsp low fat shredded mozzarella cheese (1 point)

Assemble chopped salad ingredients as listed.

For Herb Mustard Vinaigrette Dressing:

1 tbsp. garbanzo bean liquid
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp minced fresh garlic
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Whisk all ingredients really well, adding cheese last.  Count 2 points for all of the dressing. 7 points for the whole salad. 

Have a great day!
pinches of salt and pepper

Monday, February 7, 2011

Weekend Wonders.

I had a busy weekend, so I did not get everything posted on time, but better late than never.  I wanted to share my delicious breakfast and lunch from Sunday.  I started my morning with a good uphill walk on Signal Hill with two good friends.  Of course we were talking about a lot of different things, but the closer we got to the finish line, the more we talked about food- we were all getting hungry.  It was very foggy, and quite chilly, so when we finished and the hunger pangs were kicking in, all I could think of was Whole Wheat French Toast.   I cam home and made just that.

Whole Wheat French Toast

In a shallow bowl, whisk three egg whites (1 point) with a tbsp. of nonfat milk.  Add in a 1/2 tsp. vanilla,  a shake of nutmeg, and a few shakes of cinnamon.  Whisk well, and then soak two slices of whole wheat bread (make sure each slice has at least three grams of fiber, 2 pts. per slice) in it- coat evenly.  Meanwhile spray a griddle or non-stick skillet with healthy oil spray and pre-heat.  When hot, place both slices of soaked bread onto the skillet, and pour all egg mixture on top (you need the protein).  Cook for three minutes, then flip and cook until browned.  Spray each slice with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, top with a 1/4 cup of Maple Grove Farms sugar free syrup (30 calories, 1 point) and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.  This is such a satisfying breakfast, and for only 6 points.

After a breakfast like that you think I'd be full all day, but I did walk up a lot of hills, so I was famished by noon.  Good thing I had all the ingredients I needed for a quick and nutritious lunch.  While breakfast was on the sweeter side, lunch was definitely savory.

Polenta Florentine

2 slices of Trader Joe's polenta (comes in a log form, 2 points for 1/5 of the log, I portion my log with a Sharpie before I cut in)
1 tsp. olive oil (1 point)
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cups spinach leaves
1/2 cup marinara sauce (Trader Joe's Organic marinara sauce, 2 pts.)
1/4 cup low fat shredded mozzarella cheese (2 points)

In a non-stick skillet, saute the garlic in the olive oil over medium-high heat, and make sure pan is well coated with oil.  Add in mushrooms, cover with lid, and cook 1-2 minutes.  Move mushrooms to the edge of the pan, spray each side of polenta with healthy oil spray and place in center of pan.  Cook about 90 seconds on each side, uncovered.  Move some mushrooms onto tops of polenta slices, turn heat to low, and top with spinach leaves, then marinara and finally the mozzarella.  Cover with lid, turn off the heat, and let spinach wilt for 60 seconds.  Remove cover and transfer to dinner plate.  You will love the comfort this dish delivers with its rick marinara, melted cheese, and warm polenta.  You also get a serving of whole grains (polenta is made from corn) a serving of healthy oil, four servings of vegetables, and some dairy- can't beat that for 7 points!

Enjoy your Monday, I'll be back tomorrow.