November 30, 2009

The good, the bad, and the ugly of recent foodie encounters

It's been a while since I posted - given that little Thanksgiving thing last week, ya know - so I thought I should write up a little post tonight.

Lately, I've had mixed emotions about eating, dieting, cooking. It's a mix of being inspired to cook non-healthy things for the nurturing fun of it, but then also wanting more than ever to drop a couple of the pounds that I've gained back since moving to Atlanta, and re-joined the real world. ("Real World" meaning a life that is shared with other people - a boyfriend I see and cook for on the weekends, cooking for fun, and actually going out to eat with friends - rather than sticking to myself, working out and barely eating.)

I'm still not sure I've figured out the right balance or the right routine to make sure I don't put on weight. Maybe it's just that I am super concerned since it's the holidays and I am coming off of a week where I indulged, but it's been weighing (no pun intended) on my mind lately.

But if there's one thing I've been doing right, it's this:


My trusty, HUGE tupperware full of raw veggies and fat-free T. Marzetti's ranch veggie dip. It's so filling, and I think pretty tasty. If there's one thing I need to keep doing, it's filling myself up on stuff like this.

If there's another thing I've been doing right, it's this:

Enjoying things like fresh flowers, instead of food-things. Oh, and generally enjoying life and other people.

What I need to do more of:
  • Work out. This means stop wasting time in the evenings. Which probably also means working late, and then coming home and wasting time on the computer. If I can't control the working late part, I can't keep making excuses for letting it affect the routines I know are good for me.
  • Stay focused. You see, it's the eating, stupid: during a dinner party, at work when someone brings in a baked good, at home when I get a recipe I want to try that I know I'll over-indulge in. Regardless, it all starts with just NOT eating it (or cooking it) in the first place. Not sure if that's something I'll ever truly master, but I can try.
In the meantime, I should probably just work out more. Which means I should go to bed, so I will wake up in the morning and get on the trusty elliptical machine.

Good night!

November 16, 2009

Grilled chicken salad with lentils, feta and shallots

I wanted to share the salad I made for lunch today, because it's a new winning combo for my lunches of late.

I - like a lot of people - typically only like salads when they have a lot of stuff on them. The usual suspects are cheese, croutons, chicken, hard boiled egg, and creamy dressings. I've tried using the low-fat versions of all of these items, but at the end of the day, even the lowfat condiments and toppings "add up" to sometimes not be worth it in my diet book.

For instance:
A salad with lettuce, cucumber, tomato = O points
Add 1/4 cup reduced fat shredded cheese = 2 points
Add a hard boiled egg = 2 points
Add 3 oz grilled chicken = 3 points

= 7 points total

And that's not even counting dressing.

Now, that's not an unreasonable amount for most dieters - about the same as your average lean cuisine meal - but it's still close to half of my daily points value. For me, I've always needed enough budge room in my points or calories to be able to "play" throughout the day, whether that's a mid morning snack, a little candy, a latte, etc.

So, in the end, I've experimented with different kinds of salads, but more often than not, I defer against them because I'd rather get veggies a different way.

But this salad.... this salad was a keeper. And for what I calculated was a 4-5 point total.


Baby spring greens, grilled chicken, 1/4 cup lentils, 1/4 cup reduced fat feta, shallots.

Shallots = o points
1/4 cup lentils= 0 points (60 cals / 4 g fiber)
1/4 cup reduced fat feta = 1 point
Lettuce = o points
3 oz chicken cooked with spray (no oil) = 3 points.

I had brought some lemon and garlic herb dressing that is 25 cals per 2 Tbsp. which would have been 1 point, but I had enough going on with the salad that I didnt even use it. It was really yummyand I think the lentils were a great way to add stuff with hardly any additonal points or calories.

Before this salad topping magic-maker, I had really been enjoying grilled veggies, like red onions and peppers, but they were not as good leftover as they were freshly cooked.

What are your favorite salad toppers?

November 15, 2009

Low Fat Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas

I was excited to make these low fat chicken enchiladas that I had found through MyRecipes.com, since I'm always looking for guy-friendly meals.

These were a delicious change of pace, and about 8 Weight Watchers points a piece (454 calories). Both Ben and my roomate's boyfriend liked them a lot, which begs the question: if these pass the "not-so-diet-conscious-guy" taste test, why would you make them with full-fat ingredients?


(I also just noticed the Cooking Light picture has these in a green casserole dish as well!)

These call for normal flour tortillas (medium sized), but I was wondering how they would be with low-carb flour tortillas? Maybe it would compromise the taste. I may experiment at report back. Normally I'm a sucker for cutting out the calories of normal flour tortillas since they can be so "expensive" calorically.

A serving is one enchilada, and this makes 8. Here's the recipe from Cooking Light below. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) preshredded reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese
  • 1 2/3 cups plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of chicken soup (such as Healthy Request), undiluted
  • 1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
  • 8 (8-inch) flour tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Combine first 9 ingredients in a large bowl. Remove 1 cup chicken mixture; set mixture aside.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working with 1 tortilla at a time, brush oil over both sides of tortilla. Add tortilla to pan; cook 5 seconds on each side or until toasted and soft. Remove from pan; arrange 1/2 cup chicken mixture down center of tortilla. Roll jelly-roll style; place filled tortilla, seam side down, in a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining 7 tortillas, remaining oil, and remaining chicken mixture. Spread reserved 1 cup chicken mixture evenly over enchiladas. Cover and bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle evenly with cheddar cheese and green onions; bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 454
Fat: 20.3g (sat 10.4g,mono 6.7g,poly 1.5g)
Protein: 30.8g
Carbohydrate: 36.6g
Fiber: 2.2g
Cholesterol: 73mg
Iron: 2.3mg
Sodium: 757mg

November 8, 2009

A Not So Healthie Birthday Celebration (Plus Dinner by Kevin from Top Chef!)

First, let's just start with this picture:


That's right, in the middle there you'll see a man named Kevin Gillespie. You might recognize him from this season of Top Chef. (We're all such huge fans! We're rooting for you Kevin!)

Yesterday was my sister's birthday, so Erin and her boyfriend Richard decided to come to Atlanta last minute to head to Kevin's restaurant, Woodfire Grill. Ben and I of course willingly joined them :).

It was so decadent and delicious, although a little pricey for a standard Saturday night.

I had a champagne cocktail, with elderflower and oregano syrup which was such a delightful addition to the normal bubbly. Then, we did the 5-course tasting menu. Since we did the tasting menu, everything was a surprise, so my apologies that my descriptions of what we ate are not exactly on point.

  • Compliments of the Chef: A sort of Amuse Bouche that was a play on waldorf salad. It had braised apple and celery, with a mixture of creme freche and some kind of aioli.
  • First Course: Sous vide egg with micro black eyed peas and tomato broth (and other fancy stuff I can't remember...)
  • Second Course: Caramelized Georgia Diver scallop with an olive tapenade, local Georgia butter beans and a lamb jus.
  • Third Course: Raw oysters from Washington state (can't remember the formal kind we had) and they had diced pepper and red onion on top (again, can't remember the fancy components!)
  • Fourth Course: Roasted duck, over a pink lady apple and parsnip pure with firewood roasted gala apples and an apple cider reduction on the side.
  • Fifth Course: Braised pork belly with a watermelon radish and fresh herb salad on top, with roasted carrots dusted with cumin.
  • Dessert:Toasted sponge cake with apple-pear gelato with a banana chip and an apple-balsamic reduction and apples tartin on the side and a dark chocolate stuffed crepes with cocoa nib streusel, whipped cream and latte sauce.
I can't believe how good it all was! Since we decided to go kind of last-minute, we could only get a reservation for 10:15, which means we had to have a few things to snack on earlier in the evening to help us make it to such a late dinner!

First, I put out the classic veggies and dip to snack on:



Then - because it was a special occasion, I also made a baked brie. I think this is by far one of my favorite things in the world. I don't think I could ever get tired of it:


(Clearly we devoured this... truth be told, I probably ate a little too much of this before such a nice meal! I was a little too full for the rest of the evening...)

We had some wine and beer, and watched some football for the evening while we waited for our dinner reservations. Overall I think Erin had a pretty good birthday and we were glad we could help her celebrate.

November 2, 2009

Highlights from Halloween

Well, it wasn't a completely "Healthie Halloween" ... mostly just cute. My caloric intake was not a total disaster that day, but let's just say I was hardly on track...

But back to the cute part! Here are some pictures and recipes of the treats I made on Saturday, which I dare say were the highlight of my holiday.

Pumpkin Cheese ball....

Recipe from Southern Living

I thought this was so cute!! I didn't even care if people ate it, I just wanted to make it. Just because... and let me tell you it was so easy! As easy as forming cheese into a ball and making divets with your fingers. We'll call this playdough for big kids. Hungry, big kids.

Next up, sausage balls:


If you look close up, you'll see I decorated some of them as bats, trying to mimic this adorable recipe for Bat Bites from All You Magazine. Basically I shmeared some cream cheese lightly on the sausage balls to provide some stick, rolled them in poppy seeds and stuck in some broken tortilla chips. I unfortunately did't get an up-close pic of them, but they were cute :)

(As for the sausage ball recipe itself, it was 1 lb. hot sausage, 1 lb cheddar, 3 cups biscuick and 1/2 cup of water. cook sausage and let cool, combine ingredients, form the bite-sized balls and cook on ungreased pan at 400 for 12-15 minutes.)


And finally.... Ghost cupcakes!


Idea based off of this recipe from All You


So - were there any "healthie highlights" from Saturday? Actually, yes.

You'll be glad to know that those chocolate cupcakes were made low-fat by substituting the oil for applesauce. In truth, I was going to make them the regular way, but realized we were somehow out of vegetable oil. I was forced to be healthy, but they were delicious in the end so I was glad! Because the ghosts were made with cool whip, I saved some significant fat and cals from regular icing.

Also, I had a strategy on Saturday that some may not agree with, but it was realistic for me. Basically, I knew I would be snacking as I cooked, and snacking throughout the party. So why bother eating a formal lunch or dinner? It was basically a landslide of snacking, but at least I didn't waste calories on additional meals when the snacking would have occurred anyway :) When possible throughout the day, I did snack on veggies and yogurt ranch dip to help fill up on the good stuff.

How was Halloween for everyone else?!

October 28, 2009

I need a new camera + TheDailyPlate.com

I would post so much more often if I had a good camera. I swear.

Well,the camera and good picture-taking skills to match, actually.


But I say this, because I take even worse pictures than usual with my camera right now, particularly due to poor apartment lighting. (Not to mention that the face plate of the camera is falling off!) So, I keep not posting recipes and items I made because I keep not taking pictures, and well - posts about cooking seem to just be boring without the images.

I'm looking at getting a new camera, but in the meantime, I continue to be inspired (and I'll admit, jealous) by other bloggers far more talented than me. (Ahem, see the blogroll to the right.)

I've also been playing with TheDailyPlate.com, which let's you populate your "plate" online with items you ate that day. Once you've filled your plate, it helps you understand how many calories you have left in the day based on your body and weight loss goals.


I must say - it's a little tedious to look up and populate items online like this, but it is extremely informative. Unlike weight watchers (which I love), this tool helps you track progress over a week, and also helps you track all factors of your diet: cholesterol, sodium, fat, calories, sugars, carbs, etc.

This is particularly helpful for when you may need a reminder to avoid certain slip ups in your diet, like sodium, which I consistently consume WAY too much of. (155% of what I normally should!)

t helps show you where these totals are coming from based on the foods you ate. For instance, while I love a brand of chicken sausage I eat because it's tasty and low in calories and fat, it's also chock full of sodium, like many other processed foods. It seems that in a realistic world, some thing's always got to give, and for me usually that's my sodium levels, although this tool is a good reminder that I should be keeping an eye on that too.


I'm going to try to use it ever day for the next week, so try it out and let me know what you think too!

October 18, 2009

Updates around the blog

A few updates!

  1. While I've been slacking on the posting, it's only because I've been working on my new Twitter account for healthie foodie ideas. I've been meeting so many great new diet bloggers to follow, so I've really been enjoying it!
  2. I also just started a different section on the blog for all of my favorite brands and food stuffs. You can find that at the top under favorites, and I'll be updating it regularly as I find great new products.

That's all for now.... off to pack my lunch before heading to bed. I need to stay on track tomorrow because Ill be traveling for work and won't have as much control over the food selection. Wish me luck; I'll need the extra willpower!

October 5, 2009

Latest Foodie Favorites

I'm what you call a grazer. Literally, when I am at work, I probably eat once an hour. Maybe every once in a while if I'm particularly full I can go a few hours without something to eat. (Well, and when I have meetings and my schedule doesn't permit of course.)

But I am quite sure that it's gotten to the point that my coworkers aren't certain I really do work at the office. Despite what it may look like, no I do not just walk back and forth to the kitchen all day!

Here are a few of my latest favorite snacks and saving graces during work that keep me walking back and forth from my desk:
  • Cabot reduced fat cheese wedges. I love cheese, and the benefit to eating cheese is that the protein keeps you full. These are great because they are reduced fat, so each snack is only 1 Weight Watchers point. Sometimes I eat 2 or three of these in a day, honestly. Especially one late in the afternoon or before I leave work to keep me from getting too hungry right before dinner. I get a big bag of them at Sam's Club, but I'm sure they have these at other grocery stores, just probably not in the jumbo bag. (disclaimer: Sam's is a client. Photo courtesy of the Cabot web site.)
  • Spinach and Asiago Chicken Sausages. Ok these are from Sam's too (the Members Mark brand), but are seriously delicious. Don't take my word for it, Google them and you'll see plenty of other people talking about them! They are only 110 calories so I was thrilled at the idea of having these around as a tasty low fat protein for me - since it's rare that I eat meat during the week - but also for Ben when he's around. (Men otherwise would drown in diet food in my apartment, and would likely still die hungry). I personally think these things are amazing. Truly, I think they are the tastiest things I've ever had. Ben of course would prefer a hearty kielbasa or some sort of manly equivalent, but he thinks they're good too I guess...
  • Fresh roasted green beans with shallots. I'm really into sauteed green beans lately, cooked with a little bit of chicken broth and shallots. (Shallots are amazing: smaller portions than having to cut up a whole onion, and not nearly the awful tear-jerking dicing ordeal.)
  • Skinny cow ice cream sandwiches. We had a little ice cream social at work one day and I was so thankful that someone brought these along as a healthy alternative. It also reminded me how totally satisfying they are. (Sorry Weight Watchers, but these I think are better than your version...). I keep these around to have at night when I want something sweet, and they're only 2 points.

  • Good old 100 calorie snack packs. I currently have a big box that has a mix of baked Cheetos, Smartfood popcorn, and cheddar Sunchips. These packswere kind of a cliche at one point, and can be completely ineffective at helping you lose weight if yourely on them too much to make up your diet, but in a weak moment for junk food, they are a saving grace. These are all delicious, and they take away the vending machine urges for just 2 weight watchers points each.
  • Dark chocolate yogurt covered raisins. I always want something candy-like in the afternoons, and these have been a good antidote. 1/4 of a cup are 2 weight watchers points.
Some of the old stand-by's are still around too, like veggie patties. I've recently discovered Gardenburger's sun dried tomato basil flavor is delicious and the patties are just one point a piece. Raw veggies with fat-free ranch dip, and edamame are both still great, filling snacks that take you a while to eat. (I feel more satisfied when a snack takes time to munch.)

I'm looking for some new ideas though - particularly for fruits to snack on now that melons aren't in season any more. Let me me know if you have any ideas!

Back in the Saddle Again...

It's time to dust off ye old blog. I can't believe it's been two months. (I'm sorry Lindsey and Erin! Healthie Foodie is back!)

I realized, when I started this blog I was at the peak of my diet and it was a great way to stay motivated. Also, at the time I lived alone and didn't have a lot going on... My roomie was already living in Atlanta, and I was only surrounded by friends who were also dieting. (It's pretty easy to stay on track when you're not tempted during the week, and to indulge, you and your friends make low fat brownies and eat sushi!)

I was living in a healthy (unrealistic) bubble world...

I've struggled a lot with temptation since moving to Atlanta: new restaurants to try, and more friends to go try them with. Most importantly, a certain food-devouring boyfriend that I love to cook for is also around more often now that I'm closer. Turns out I am not 6'4" and should probably not be eating the same quantities and snacks he does...

But despite some serious slip-ups, I have been doing a couple of things right:

  • Cooking Light is still a great inspiration for finding a way to scratch the cooking itch, without quite as much guilt. This came in really handy when friends would want to cook out over the summer! Back in July, I went to my friend Libby's to grill with friends, and Ben and I brought our own scallops to grill along with this roasted red pepper butter sauce.. I'll have to write a separate post on this one! All in all, I think the scallops were around 2-3 weigh watchers points, so I was really proud.)
  • I quickly bounced back from some bad eating habits in a new work environment by finding snacks that work for me. For me, new environments mean new urges to reach for food as a mental break. This meant I had to get very strategic about lunch packing again. I had to find foods that would keep me full, because Lord knows if I was the slightest bit hungry I would reach for something carb-loaded and covered in sugar. I'll be writing soon about my new snack favorites and old stand-by's that have been really helpful lately!
  • Making time to work out (or trying to). Nothing will ever replace working out and burning calories. Nothing. Because about 50% of the time, I won't end up eating the way I should have that day, and burning what I eat is my only saving grace. That said, this has still been a struggle for me. Working late, being back around good friends and with Ben closer, it's hard to carve out the time. But I joined a gym, and I've been trying to find ways to go work out with people (Ben is always up for coming with me, and I'm finding more and more friends who are willing to go on a walk around the neighborhood to catch up instead of going to dinner or drinks.)
So, there's lots to catch up on. I'm sorry I haven't posted much (err... .at all), but I really have been cooking and trying to stay on track, so there's more to come, I promise!

August 4, 2009

Healthie Beach Trip Snack: Avocado, Corn and Black Bean Salsa

This weekend, I went to the beach with some of my dearest college friends, and it reminded me how long it had been since I spent time on the Gulf. While I made a day trip or two to Emerald Isle and Atlantic Beach back when I visited Ben where he was stationed in Jacksonville, N.C., it had been about 2 and a half years since I had been to the beaches I grew up going to in Florida, It was so nice to be back!

The houses we were staying in were so unbelievably nice, and more importantly, stocked with cookware and basically every kitchen essential.
So, rather than spending money going out several nights in a row, my friends and I had all agreed to pack things to eat and cook at the house. While the daiquiris and Parmesan garlic oysters I ate meant that I was hardly "good" all weekend, I did take the opportunity to bring a few healthy items to eat like those chicken Caesar wraps, my favorite "No Pudge" Fudge Brownies, fresh fruit, veggies and dip, and some granola bars.

The most satisfying snack while on the beach though, was the black bean and corn salsa that my roommate Caroline had made for all of us. It was SO delicious with Baked Tostitos (and a beer or two, I'll admit...). A few of us could barely stop ourselves from eating the whole bowl before the rest of the group got to have some. Here is a recipe based on what I think was probably in Caroline's, and based on some of the other recipe's I've seen around online.

Black Bean Salsa:
  • 2 15 ounce cans black beans, drained.
  • 1 17 ounce can of whole kernel corn, drained.
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped.
  • 2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large avocado, chopped.
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • cilantro (optional - personally I'm not a big fan and would prefer it without!)
  • Salt, pepper, and juice of one lime.
You definitely need to make some of this at some point during our last few weeks of summer, and enjoy with baked tortilla chips and a light beer for a relatively healthy, completely tasty snack. I also thought this Watermelon Salsa recipe from Eating Well looked good, although I would probably add some cucumbers in to this one. Any other ideas?

July 27, 2009

Potato and Greens Torta from Cooking Light

I tried this recipe a while back, so it's really about time I posted it here for everyone else to enjoy. The April issue of Cooking Light where this little gem came from was filled with tons of great springtime recipes and ideas for having Easter brunch that just made me want to cook. I jotted down a lot of recipes from here that I want to come back and try, like Spring Asparagus Risotto, Goat Cheese Grits, and Linguine with Arugula Pesto, and if you remember the Italian tomato tart that I raved about came from this issue too. You won't quite have the springtime setting like the pictures in this issue, but I promise if you make it now, this torta will be just as tasty!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds small Yukon gold potatoes
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups torn romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups packed fresh spinach leaves
  • 2 cups packed arugula leaves
  • 1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded fontina cheese
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese

Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Place potatoes and 1 tablespoon salt in a large saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes or until tender. Drain; cool slightly. Peel potatoes; discard peels. Press cooked potatoes through a ricer into a large bowl.
  • Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in romaine, spinach, and arugula; cook 1 minute or until greens wilt, tossing frequently. Remove greens from pan; finely chopped
  • Add greens, milk, fontina, eggs, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to potatoes; stir well to combine. Coat a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray; dust with breadcrumbs. Add potato mixture to prepared dish. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes. Remove from oven; sprinkle with pecorino. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
This makes 6 servings, that are 4 weight watchers points each (214 calories / 9.1 grams fat / 3.2 grams fiber). Personally, I think I would divide the the dish into fourths, and make it roughly a 6-point meal instead, although this smaller portion could be great as a small meal / snack.

Here are a few things I noted / recommend:

  • If you have a "ricer" at home, I salute you. I did not know what this was, but of course my mom knew and she said it wasn't a big deal to just find a way to grate up the potatoes myself. It turns out it looks kinda like a big garlic press. If you want one, check out this one from OXO on Amazon. I have yet to personally invest the money in one, because while it took some serious elbow grease, a good-sized cheese grater ended up doing the trick for getting the potatoes to the right consistency. Also, let's be honest - there's not much keeping you from slicing up the potatoes to make it more like a gratin and it will be just as delicious! Or how about whipping the potatoes... a little shepherd's pie twist? I'll let you be the judge.
  • Personally, I think I would divide the the dish into fourths, and make it roughly a 6-point meal instead, although this smaller portion could be great as a small meal / snack.
  • I loved the greens in it, but I noticed that the bagged romaine lettuce I used had some "stalky" pieces that messed up the texture for me. I think I will use a less crisp alternative, like a spring mix, a bibb lettuce, or more of the spinach and arugula the next time I make it. Also, I used a pair of vegetable / herb scissors to chop up the greens and it made it a lot easier!
  • Don't skimp on the 2% milk, the folks at Cooking Light seem to know what they're doing. So, while I am usually tempted to shave off calories and fat with items like skim milk, I trust that they put the 2% in for a reason, and that the original recipe will end up being more satisfying if I just leave it alone!

July 21, 2009

Recent healthy finds and favorites

I think anyone who watches what they eat goes through phases filled with new ideas and snacks they discovered recently. I think there's also always that re-discovery phase too... you know, when you finally rediscover why you loved a food or flavor that you burnt yourself out on a couple months prior.

So, here are some of the things I've been eating and craving lately. Some aren't that revolutionary by any means, but I just think it's helpful to see what other healthy people are eating because it inspires me to switch it up. I hope some of these give you some new ideas, too :)
  • Cantaloupe and cottage cheese: Such a classic... I've always LOVED melon more than any other fruit, and cottage cheese is rich enough that it makes eating fruit feel more indulgent than just biting into an apple. If you're getting burnt out on snacking on fruit - put some cottage cheese on top and see what you think. (1 cup of melon is 1 point, 1/2 a cup of fat-free cottage cheese is about 1 point too.)
  • Diet lemonades from Chick-fil-A: A large (and I mean large) sized diet lemonade is only 30 calories. It's really tasty, and can really curb my craving for other snacks in the afternoon.
  • Wine and cheese crumbles: I actually saw my friend Libby crumble up cheese to eat while sipping wine once, and it inspired me to find a healthy way to enjoy cheese with my wine, since it is by far one of my favorite, favorite things. Instead of braking off cubes or slices of your favorite cheese, breaking it up into crumbles allows you to "taste" the cheese as you sip, rather than chowing down larger portions as you go. It worked really well for me!
  • Chicken Caesar wraps: Kind of like these chicken pesto wraps I wrote about. Wrap up some mixed greens, a bit of shredded Parmesan and some chicken in a whole wheat tortilla and put some low fat Caesar on the side for dipping. Extremely flavorful and satisfying.
  • Biscotti: I rediscovered how satisfying biscotti is, when I was frequenting GreenBerry's for latte's while packing for the move. Nonni's Biscotti is in grocery stores, and each one is 2 points.
  • Roasted green beans and peppers: This is my new favorite combination of roasted vegetables for small meals, side dishes or snacks. Get a package of pre-washed / trimmed french cut green beans and slice up some red bell pepper, drizzle sparingly with olive oil and add salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at 400 until slightly charred or roasted. I use frozen green beans and peppers and to me it's just as good, and super easy.
  • Good old lean cuisines: An oldie, but goodie. I've certainly gotten tired of lean cuisines in years past; both of eating the same meals over and over again, as well as becoming painfully aware that the meal is over as soon as the tray is empty. While generally I do best when I can look forward to several low-calorie meals and snacks throughout the day, there's something to be said for sitting down to a meal. Lean cuisines may not be a hearty meal for some, but for someone dieting, they are just right if you are craving some pasta or a real entree.
Anyone have any other ideas? Anything that's helping you push through cravings lately?

July 15, 2009

Eat This, Not That: Chick-fil-A Breakfast Remix

While it's a little depressing to realize how not-so-great for you the foods you love really are, I just had a come to Jesus with the delicious breakfast I love at Chick-fil-A. My beloved chicken biscuit with hashbrowns on the side is 17 Weight Watchers points, which is really about as many points as I should be eating in an entire day!

Now, I'm all for a splurge from time to time, but I thought we could all benefit from exploring our options on the menu. So here are a few of the nutrition facts for some of the most popular breakfast items
  • Chicken Biscuit: 450 calories / 20 g. fat / 3 g. fiber (10 WW points)
  • Hashbrowns: 280 calories / 19 g. fat / 2 g. fiber (7 WW points)
  • Plain Biscuit: 310 calories / 13 g. fat / 2 g. fiber (6 WW points)
  • Chicken Minis ( 4 ct): 350 calories / 14 g. fat / 2 g. fiber (8 WW points)
  • You can also calculate your own meal on the site: http://www.chick-fil-a.com/#calculator
In honor of the book "Eat this, not that," Here are a few ideas for making it work and some other considerations for when you order:
  • If you want the real deal - the combo - with hashbrowns, go with the chicken minis instead of the full biscuit; a 4 count of the minis instead will save you 100 calories. (hashbrowns + minis = 15 points. Going for the 3 count would be even healthier. All things considered, though, it may not be so terrible when you realize that some Lean Cuisine pizza's are 12 points. I'm just sayin')
  • The chicken biscuit's still better than the sausage biscuit... The sausage biscuit is 590 calories! Which, uhh basically broke the points calculator. It doesn't even register, but just just based on my own estimates, I think with 41 g of fat, it would weigh in at around 14 - 15 WW points on it own, so... actually the chicken ain't lookin' so bad...
  • And of course you could get a multi grain sunflower bagel (220 cal), and a fruit cup (70 cal), but let's be honest... you're at Chick-fil-A... why would you get a bagel and fruit when there's fried chicken to eat?
Go to http://www.chick-fil-a.com/#healthylifestyle for some other good ideas - the chicken breakfast burrito on it's own, for instance, isn't that bad for you!

July 13, 2009

Blog Envy: The Chubby Vegetarian

Since I have been neglecting my blog for about a month now (ok I know I have been milking the move excuse, but hey.... I moved...), I thought my first post back would be an appropriate time to say how jealous I am of a blog I came across today: the chubby vegetarian.

The obvious reason that Justin's blog is good is because, well, he updates it. (I really need to get back into the swing of things!)

But aside from his frequent updates, here are just a couple of things you can look forward to:
If you're looking for some new side dishes, or healthy veggies, revamped please go check out his blog! I know I've added it to my reader.

June 9, 2009

No Pudge Fudge Brownie Mix - Very Easy, Very Worth It

More low fat baking from a box, folks. These fat free brownies are delicious, and each serving is 2 points (about half of what it normally would be!)

Plus, the packaging is cute... (it's pink, with a little piggie!)


So, all you do is mix nonfat vanilla yogurt in with the batter, which I think makes this mix better than other fat free mixes I've tried where you just add water. In fact, if I get other brands, I'll probably still use yogurt instead of water. I wasn't able to find this mix at a Publix in Atlanta when I was there, so I'm afraid I'll never see this cute pink box and little piggie again after I move... A case of this mix might be traveling South with me!

And... here's something I did that makes these really delicious - borderline decadent. I made a lowfat cream cheese frosting to go on top! All you have to do is take fat free cream cheese, add some splenda to taste (or a half splenda / sugar blend), and if needed, pour a little fat free milk (or even fat free liquid coffee creamer!) to make it a little smoother.

It is so freaking good. And, this makes a fat free brownie that much richer for just another point or two. If you're not up for the extra decadence, a little bit of cool whip would be tasty too:


Make these immediately to have on had for a lowfat snack! Or, if you're feeling like a low key night, make these with some girlfriends and you won't feel nearly as guilty as you might if you had broken down and gotten ice cream or baked cookies.

Enjoy!

June 4, 2009

Wellternatives

Some of you may have noticed the "Wellternatives" widget on the sidebar of my blog! I got it off of Wellsphere, and while I haven't gotten the opportunity to test it out much, I do like the principle behind it. Just like the popular Eat this, not that books, making the right choices each day is really about making informed choices. The most sustainable diets are effective because they teach you a new perspective that helps you make better choices. Years of point calculating on Weight Watchers has really just translated into an enlightened way for me read nutrition labels.

Test it out and let me know what you think! The one thing I'v elearned about dieting is you never know if something is really that good or bad for you until you know.

June 3, 2009

Healthie Hoppin' John

Perhaps it's because I'm from the South, but of all the wonderful food I had when I was at Restaurant 3 in Clarendon, a side of Hoppin' John was what I just couldn't stop eating! It was deliciously buttery, and it reminded me how good a basic rice dish can be. Before I go on to explain how I made my own (probably healthier) version, I should say thank you, by the way to my dear friends Erin (Corgy) and Stephanie (StephCo) for the wonderful gift card to go there while Ben was in town last! They surprised me with the card for my birthday :)

Ok, so back to the food... For the folks who don't know what Hoppin' John is, it's a Southern version of rice and beans, typically made with black eyed peas ad bacon fat... afterall it is a Southern dish.

When I told my mom I was making it, she said, "but it's not even New Years
?!" The tradition is to have this on New Years Day to bring you wealth for the coming year, because the peas are symbolic for coins. Well clearly the wealth part is all a bunch of phuey... I'm still totally broke. But, when cooked sans pork fat, the dish is just another great side that can be a small vegetarian meal.

Recipes vary a lot. Emmeril, for instance, uses a little green pepper and celery in his version. I was going for an exact replica of the version I had that night at Restaurant 3, though, which included green onions, halved grape tomatoes, black eyed peas and rice.

I never used a recipe really, but here is what I did and I was totally pleased with it! I can't really claim to have directions to give y'all, since I didn't really follow any to begin with, but here's a loose structure of what I did.

What you need:

Amounts will depend on how much you want to make
  • brown rice
  • chicken broth
  • grape tomatoes
  • scallions
  • blackeyed peas
  • 1 packet of Goya brand ham flavoring (gives you that great flavor of cooking with a ham hock, without any calories!)
Directions (or lack thereof):
  1. Cook rice according to package. For extra flavor, substitute half, or all of water for boiling with chicken broth. Add the ham concentrate packet to the liquid.
  2. When the liquid has absorbed by half, add the beans. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add in the tomatoes for the last minute or so.
  3. When rice is done cooking, and all of the liquid is absorbed, stir in a tablespoon or two or light butter.
  4. Toss in sliced green onions, and voila:
I also just made this last night with wild rice and garbanzo beans, and left out the ham concentrate because the chicken broth and the wild rice already had a good flavor. The wild rice I thought was also particularly pretty in this version. So honestly you can make this with any variety of rice and beans. A cup of this is about 4 points; a great little meal.

May 28, 2009

Eating what's in your pantry

Well, the healthie foodie is moving. Not like a new web domain, like literally preparing to move from D.C. to Atlanta, so I apologize for the lack of posts. For one, I have been preoccupied with apartment hunting, and traveling. Secondly, I have had a new mission to eat all of the food that is currently in my freezer or pantry.

This has been an interesting experiment in not only working with what you have to save money, but also making sure that my "make-shift" meals are still healthy. This can be a little challenging when much of what is in my pantry is crackers, pasta, and other carb variations.

The other challenge has been staying "inspired" by the lackluster pantry items. As I've said before, a subscription to Cooking Light was a true blessing after 2 months of hardcore dieting in the fall. I was able to maintain my diet and continue losing weight by finding new ways to make low-fat small meals, and new sensible alternatives for food groups that I love. Unfortunately, working with what you have means you have to work hard to not go buy additional ingredients that might be needed for a fun new recipe.

Here are some of the things that I've had to work with:
  • Multi-grain crackers (wheat sociables), triscuits
  • LOTS of fat free cream cheese (I had bought a tub, and for some reason had a block of reduced fat cream cheese too. Oh and individual packets of WW brand cream cheese.... I mean, what?! Why did I have so much... I don't have a good explanation!)
  • Several frozen chicken breasts
  • Frozen spinach
  • Frozen corn
  • Frozen chopped onion
  • Frozen ground turkey
  • Pasta galore
  • 2 jars of pasta sauce
  • Couscous
  • 1 tube of polenta
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can fat free refried beans
  • 1 small can of sliced black olives.
  • 2 packages potato gnocchi
  • Wild rice
  • 1 can garbanzos
  • 2 cans canellini
  • 1 can seasoned black beans
  • brown rice
  • blueberry muffin mix
  • 1 package steamed lentils
  • Cheese galore: crumbled blue cheese, feta, goat cheese; shredded mozzarella, parmesan.
  • golden raisins
  • 2 packages fat free brownie mix
  • 1 carton of egg whites, 1 carton of egg substitute
  • Pretty much every condiment, oil, vinegar and spice.
The good news for me was that, since I had been buying more groceries than usual when I was cooking for the last couple of months, I now have a pretty well stocked pantry filled with great basics. The bad news is that I really do need to start chipping away at all of this stuff.

In particular, I've had a real come to Jesus with myself over how much cream cheese I had. But now, I've really come to appreciate it; it's versatile, and to me it is a condiment that is easily forgotten unless it's being put on a bagel. Cream cheese is the perfect low fat spread for wraps (remember
my chicken pesto wrap?), and it's actually good on crackers too! Weight Watcher's brand of 1-point tubs of cream cheese are perfect for this: good for portion control, and great for grabbing and taking to work.

So, while I have been able to get creative with some of these items, most of the time, it's just been a matter of getting back to basics: crackers with cream cheese, pasta with spaghetti sauce, etc.


More recipes to come, although I've had to breakdown and buy a few ingredients here or there.

May 17, 2009

Weekend Baking Fail: Tasty, but Not-So-Pretty Meringue Cookies

I love meringue cookies, and because they don't contain butter or flour like other cookies, they can be pretty reasonable snacks.

I used to buy Miss Meringue chocolate chip meringue cookies from the grocery store (www.missmeringue.com), and really liked them. Making them yourself, though is a lot cheaper, especially since they go fast! (You can eat about 4 for 2 weight watchers points a piece - right under 100 calories!).

So this weekend I prepared to make these Chocolate Hazlenut Meringue Kisses that I had seen in an old issue of Cooking Light. I knew there was an art to beating egg whites, and that making a meringue can be tricky, but I was ready.

It was not pretty site, though. Here's what the finished product was supposed to look like (picture from Cooking Light, December 2008) :


Cute, huh? Problem is.... mine did not look like this. And I've had a lot of difficulty after 3-4 attempts (sad, I know) to make stiff peaks with my meringues. But, before I show youa pic of how mine turned out, here is another picture of what meringue cookies should look like. This time, Sandra Lee's Strawberry Meringue Cookies. Picture courtesy of the Food Network:



By the way, this recipe was labeled "Easy" on the Food Network's web site. Apparently it's supposed to be "easy" to beat egg whites and make a meringue with a proper, stiff peak. Well, apparently I am challenged in this arena, because I did not find it easy... At all. And I don't consider myself a total rookie in the kitchen...

But clearly I was doing something wrong, because here is a picture of my cookies (image courtesy of my crappy camera and terrible photography skills):


Granted, they do look more like cookies (do I get points for that?). Granted, they still taste like a meringue cookie; just as healthy, and just as melt-in-your-mouth good as the more proper kind... But obviously, something is not right about these bad boys, and I followed the recipe to a T... so what went wrong?

The difference in color I can explain: the recipe called for toasted hazlenuts, chopped bittersweet chocolate, and cocoa powder to be combined in a food processor. The hazlenuts were still warm when I combined them, so it made the cocoa powder clump with the melted chocolate, rather than dispersing throughout the batter. Oh well, that I wasn't worried about.

The clear problem is that my egg whites never reached the optimal volume.

Here are some details from a few of my failed attemps:
  • Round One: The first time I beat the egg whites, I think I actually got the right consistency. But then instead of gently folding in the chocolate nut mixture, I continued to use the mixer, so I think I over-beat the eggs.
  • Rounds Two and Three: I was going try again, making sure to not over-beat the whites. Except I was using liquid egg whites I had bought from the grocery store, which were not foaming, or peaking whatsoever. After another try with them, I came to the conclusion that there was something very different about the liquid egg whites that was preventing them from fluffing.
  • Round Four: I went back to regular egg whites, and went through the steps, and saw better results than through the liquid whites, but the peaks never reached a really stiff consistency, and obviously, made my meringue batter like the consistency of pancake batter.... which is why my meringues are flat like pancakes.
Well, after so many attempts, obviously I'm exhausted, and a little confused. One thing I think makes the difference is having the egg whites be room temperature. Sandra Lee's recipe above calls for the whites at room temp, and my mom agreed that to her knowledge, egg whites separate easier when cold, but beat better when a little warmer.

Round Five to come... I'm determined to get this right eventually. Int he meantime, does anyone have any ideas on what I'm doing wrong?

May 14, 2009

White Pizza Remix: A Chicken Pesto Wrap

I was so excited about this when I packed it for work, and was NOT disappointed when I heated it up today at lunch.

Using a lot of the same ingredients from the White Pizza from the other night, I made a wrap to take to work. This post will be short and sweet, people... here's all you do:

  1. Spread about 1 Tbsp. fat free cream cheese on 1 garlic and herb tortilla from La Tortilla Factory
  2. Spread about 2 tsp. of the store-bought pesto on top of that.
  3. Put about 1/4 cup of chicken breast strips on top (I actually just bought a package of pre-cooked, sliced chicken strips... Perdue / Tyson, etc. all make them and I was pleasantly surprised.)
  4. If desired, add a couple of artichokes.
I wrapped it all up in some saran wrap to take to work. It was good cold, and very delicious heated up for about 1:25 in the microwave... I loved it.

Also, the good news? It's 3 WW points each too! (2 pts for chicken, 0 points for the tortilla, and 1 point for the combination of cream cheese and pesto.)

I didn't have time to take a pic of it since this was an impormptu creation this morning, but I did prance around work showing my friends. My coworkers pretty much make up my readership, so it's the same thing...?

May 12, 2009

You should make this white pizza. Wow.

I have a new favorite meal... and it's only 3 Weight Watchers points.... and it's delicious.

The secret is a low fat / high fiber small tortilla as the crust. I bought the 6 inch garlic and herb tortillas from La Tortilla Factory. Each one is ZERO Weight Watchers points, since they're just 50 calories, with 6 grams of dietary fiber a piece.

Here's a look at what you're getting:


Pesto. Goat cheese. Feta. Mozzarella. Artichoke hearts.
Mmmm.......

Here's what you do:

  1. Place the tortilla on a cookie sheet lightly sprayed with cooking spray, and place in the oven to toast at 375 for about 4 minutes. (You need to give the tortilla a little bit of a head start on getting crispy).
  2. Remove the tortilla from the oven and spread about 2 teaspoons of jarred store-bought pesto, or however much you need to cover the tortilla. (I used the pesto I had left over from using it in the crust of my beloved Italian Tomato Tart!)
  3. Sprinkle about 1/4 of a cup of white cheeses on top of the pesto, using reduced fat varietes when possible. I used a mixture of part skim mozzarrella, reduced fat feta, and goat cheese. Any of these by themselves would be delicious.
  4. Chop about 1/4 cup of canned, quartered artichoke hearts so that they're bite-sized, and sprinkle on top.
  5. Return the mini pizza to the over for about 4 more minutes.
At 3 WW points, really you could have this as a snack, or you could put some sliced chicken breast on there to make it a little heartier. I was just using what I had in the pantry (the artichokes), but you could use diced roma tomatoes, mushrooms, fresh spinach, prosciutto, onions, etc.... I can't wait to try it with more toppings!

May 11, 2009

Happy Belated Cinco de Mayo!

I was craving Mexican food when I came home from work on Friday (perhaps as a belated Cinco de Mayo craving), and decided to whip up a variation of those goat cheese and roasted corn quesadillas from the March 2009 Cooking Light.

I mentioned these quesadillas briefly in my other post because they were delicious, and have inspired me to looks at quesadillas in a new (healthier) way using smaller corn tortillas and goat cheese. I used the Cooking Light recipe, but added some black beans I had left over from another recipe. After roasting the corn in the pan, I removed it from the heat and added the beans till they just warmed through before setting the mixture aside to add to my quesadillas.

I quickly found that roasted corn is DELICIOUS with black beans as a side and nothing but a little salt. I munched on this in a bowl for a while until my quesadilla was done!

My Not-So-Cinco de Mayo celebration was a total success: a roasted corn and black bean quesadilla, with a dab of light sour cream and salsa verde on the side (oh and another helping of the leftover corn and beans!). It was a totally satisfying meal. The quesadilla was about 4-5 WW points, and another 4 points came from the additional corn and beans....

When was the last time you had a super filling mexi-feast for about 8 points? I'm still craving the corn and bean mixture, and plan to make it again to take to work as a small meal.

May 7, 2009

Tangy Berries-and-Cheese Salad from Southern Living

I first mentioned this salad in this post; it was just one of the many recipes I tried making after reading several issues of Cooking Light and Southern Living while traveling.

The April 2009 issue of Southern Living I was reading was filled with recipes for using strawberries since they are so delicious this time of year.
Salads are something I get burnt out on easily, and this salad seemed like a great way to mix things up. Plus, I adore fruit and cheese together. (who doesn't?!)

The recipe called for "farmer's cheese" and noted that queso fresco could also be substituted... Um. Yea, I didn't know what either was, so that was a problem.... After all, prior to this past year I mostly just ate turkey sandwhiches, lean cuisines and soup (with the occassional session of cookie baking). So what do I know? I looked it up online and then just made a point to look for it at the cheese case next to the deli counter at Safeway. Sure enough, I found the farmer's cheese with the bries and gourmet cheeses near the deli, and the queso fresco was easy to find too. (I found this on the dairy aisle with the yogurt and butter, where they had a specific section for Hispanic cheeses and tortillas.) I went with the farmer's cheese:


I divided the round of cheese up into individual portions once I bought it, and calculated that one eighth of the package was 3 Weight Watchers Points. Having the cheese divided made it easier to grab a wedge to add to my salad if I was packing it for work, or even just as a snack by itself. Without the portion control, I tend to keep cutting off little chunks of cheese here and there while I'm around the house, and may not be actually tracking how much of it (and how many calories) I've had. (In fact, one of my favorite snacks to take to work for a while was a wedge of this cheese, and about a cup of diced pear, blackberries and strawberries mixed: absolute healthie heaven as a small meal for about 4 Weight Watchers points.)

This salad was not from Weight Watchers or Cooking Light, but I calculated the different components on their own to make it work with my diet. (Goes to show you don't have to read diet books to eat healthy!) With three WW points worth of cheese (1 wedge shown above), and about 1 point worth of almond slivers and strawberries combined, youre looking at a tasty salad for about 4-5 WW points, depending on how much dressing you use if any. Enjoy!


Tangy Berries-and-Cheese Salad
Southern Living
April 2009

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 1 (5-oz.) package mâche (about 4 cups), thoroughly washed* (yeah I didn't know what mache was either...)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup crumbled farmer's cheese**

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake almonds in a single layer in a shallow pan 5 to 7 minutes or until toasted and fragrant.
  2. Whisk together oil and next 3 ingredients in a bowl; stir in basil. Add mâche; toss to combine. Top with strawberries, farmer's cheese, and toasted almonds. Serve immediately.

*4 cups Bibb lettuce may be substituted.

**Queso fresco may be substituted

May 2, 2009

Use leftovers to make these easy (healthie) veggie quesadillas

Consider this Part II of the post on Rachel Ray's Honey-and-Lime-Glazed Salmon with Warm Black Bean and Corn Salad. When Ben and I made that recipe, we only made 2 salmon fillets (instead of 4), but made the full amount of the warm veggie salad that the recipe called for. When I was halfway done cooking the salad - which called for a full bag (roughly 6 cups) of spinach - I realized just how much of the veggies we would have left over.

While the extra spinach, bean and corn salad would have been delish on its own as a filling snack between meals at work, the full flavor potential of the leftover mixture was finally realized one night for dinner, when I used it as the perfect filling for a veggie quesadilla.


I first thought to use this veggie mixture with corn tortillas and goat cheese after making this recipe for roasted corn and goat cheese quesadillas from Cooking Light (where else?). These quesadillas are also completely delicious, and I believe 5 Weight Watchers points.

A few notes about these quesadillas before I jump into the recipe:The veggie mixture is the most complicated part, but it's still very simple. And if you make the full batch of veggies you'll have a TON to keep on had in tupperware, which will make it incredibly easy to assemble the quesadillas when you're ready to eat. (I'm actually considering freezing some of it sometime, but I'm not sure how it will turn out.... any ideas?) Also, using tortillas made of corn is a lot healthier than flour tortillas and is essential to making these extra healthie. It of course doesn't hurt that you're using the smaller 6 inch tortillas compared to 9 inch big guys... Now on to the recipe!

Veggie Quesadillas with Goat Cheese

You'll need:

Quesadillas don't really require directions, but I'll tell you what I did in case it helps...
  • Heat a skillet over medium-high heat
  • lay out one of the tortillas; spoon veggie filling onto tortilla, making sure not to pile too much on (this will make the quesadilla too full to flip easily in the pan).
  • sprinkle 1/4 cup of goat cheese on top of the veggies, and slap the other tortilla on top.
  • spray the skillet with cooking spray, and heat the quesadilla for about 1-2 minutes on each side. I'll admit I'm not an expert on getting these golden brown yet, so just keep a close eye on them the first couple of times.
Making the veggie salad:
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you want it)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 20 oz. box frozen corn kernals, defrosted
  • 1/2 cup of chicken stock / broth
  • 1 15 oz. can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2-3 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 6 cups baby spinach
  • Preheat a medium skillet over medium heat with 2 tbsp. of the olve oil (twice around the pan.) Add the onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring ocassionally, for 3 minutes.
  • To the cooked onions, add the bell peppers and corn kernals and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Add the black beans and cook until the beans are just heated through. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the juice of the second lime, the cilantro, and spinach. Toss to wilt the spinach and then taste and adjust the seasoning.


The quesadillas are
5 weight watchers points each: 2 of these corn tortillas is 2 points (110 calories / 1.5 g fat / 3 g dietary fiber), 1/4 cup of the cheese (or 1 ounce) is 2 points (80 calories / 7 g fat according to the daily plate), and while most of the veggies in the filling are generally 0 points, I count 1 point for the olive oil, corn and beans that are mixed in.

If you're like me, either of these recipes will be so good that you'll want to make another one when you're done. To avoid this, I recommend drinking a diet soda, or just getting up and walking away from the table when it's all gone...

ENJOY!