Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ore-Ida Simply Country Style French Fries

I spotted the Ore-Ida Simply Country Style French Fries at Target a couple weeks ago so I picked up the bag. I’ve tried the potato wedges which are one of my favorites in the frozen fry department, so I figured we’d give the French fry version a shot.

The French fries can crisp up nicely if the pan is sprayed with Pam and the frozen fries are then spritzed with a little more Pam. Just like the potato wedges these are a classic and delicious frozen French fry.  Sprinkled with a tad of salt and dipped into ketchup, there truly is no need for deep fried French fries.  Since they’re all natural fries they’re pretty favorable in the calorie/points plus department. I’ve enjoyed these alongside chicken fingers, sausage and even hamburgers.  Unfortunately these aren’t sold at very many grocery retailers around me, so when I do find them I try to grab a bag or two just to have them on hand.

A 3 ounce serving is 120 calories or 3 points plus values.  Well worth it in my opinion.

Have you tried any of the Ore-Ida Simply potatoes?

Good Natured Baked Multigrain Crisps – Cheddar Cheese

I have seen these Good Natured Baked Multigrain Crisps in Cheddar Cheese from time to time but never picked up a bag because I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy them. While picking up a few items at the grocery store I spotted the double serving bags on sale for 2/$1 so I grabbed a bag.

The crisps themselves are very crispy and rather light. They certainly satisfy the crunch factor one would look for with chips and the greatest part is you get that with half the fat. But since they are multigrain the multigrain flavor is far more prominent than the cheddar cheese flavor. I mean, you do get “cheddar cheese fingertips” from eating them, but I get more of a multigrain flavor while eating. Not bad and I found them to be enjoyable on their own or with a sandwich.

A 1 ounce serving (roughly 17 crisps) is 120 calories or 3 points plus values.

Have you tried any of the Good Natured brand crisps?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Guilt Free Banana Cream Pie

Banana Cream Pie is one of those desserts that I have always favored and oddly enough it’s usually in the late summer/fall time that I enjoy it.  While grocery shopping my boyfriend picked up a box of banana cream pie mix while in the produce department.  I used that package many, many years ago, but I’ve grown to enjoy my version of banana cream pie a lot more. We decided that I’d make my version and we’d see if he liked it.

A few days later, I picked up the ingredients and made the pie a few hours before dinner so it could sit in the fridge and get nice and cold. Turns out it was a hit!  I simply love this pie, not only because it’s point comfortable, but because it’s so easy to make and you really don’t miss the full fat version.  Of course, if you wanted whipped cream you could add a few dollops of fat free or light cool whip to the top to seal the deal. But I personally enjoy it just like this.

Granted this is not really a “recipe” but I wanted to share a very point friendly dessert I like to make.

Serves 8. 4 points plus valus.
  • Keebler Reduced Fat Ready Crust Graham Cracker Crust
  • Jell-O Sugar Free Banana Cream Pudding
  • 2 cups fat free milk
  • 1 banana, sliced

Slice banana and layer sliced banana along the bottom of the graham cracker crust.

In a medium bowl whisk together Jell-O Pudding and milk. Blend for roughly 5 minutes until the jell-o has thickened and there are no more clumps.

Pour the pudding over the bananas.  Place into the refrigerator for a minimum of 1-hour to chill down completely.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Weight Watcher Protein Pancake with Sauteed Banana

I have been a big fan of protein pancakes using Weight Watcher smoothie mix. I saw on a fellow Weight Watchers instagram feed (and fellow blogger) where she posted her go at protein pancakes. I used to make my protein pancakes with 3 tbsp egg whites but Brooke uses 1/3 cup (2 1/3 tbsp more) and I actually like the consistency of these pancakes a lot more. They actually taste more pancakey … but flatter and not puffy.

The winner-winner in this whole thing is the sautéed banana to put on top of the pancake. It’s filling PLUS it gets in a teaspoon (or two) of healthy oil in one shot without even having to think about it. I’ve recently started incorporating frozen berries in with the banana and I think it’s absolutely amazing. Filling, delicious and they all play off one another amazingly without the need for syrup. I’ve enjoyed this so much that I’ve made it almost every single day for nearly two weeks!  Pretty soon I’m going to be in need of smoothie mix … and I can only hope there’s a sale!

WW Protein Pancake with Sauteed banana – 4 points plus. Serves 1.
  • Weight Watcher Smoothie mix (any flavor of your choice)
  • 1/3 cup egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 banana, cut into small chunks
  • Cinnamon (to taste)

Mix smoothie mix with egg whites, mix well until combined and chunks are gone.

Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat, pour batter into pan and allow to cook. Watch closely as it will not really bubble like classic pancake mix, once browned on one side, flip and cook on the other side.  Remove from pan.

Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the nonstick skillet, heat then add in banana.  Cook while mixing in the pan, season with cinnamon and finish cooking to your liking. Pour sautéed banana over pancake & enjoy!

Goldfish Puffs Buffalo Wing

Goldfish launched a new line of snacks which resemble goldfish shaped cheese puffs. These puffs come in a few different flavors, so while at Target I picked up a small double serving bag of Goldfish Puffs Buffalo Wing.

I was hesitant to pick up a full-size bag of the buffalo wing flavored puffs because typically I relate buffalo to flaming hot. I enjoy spice and heat, but for my taste buds too much is overwhelming.  When I cracked open the bag, I was rewarded with the classic buffalo scent. After the first puff I was pleasantly surprised that they weren’t burn a hole in your tongue hot. They’re truly a classic buffalo flavor without being overwhelming – either to spicy or too vinegary. I found as the more I ate of my serving, the more I got the heat, but they never quite got too spicy. The flavor was enjoyable and these have to be my favorite out of the flavors I have tried (mega cheese and salsa con queso).

Each serving is 1.1 oz (roughly 41 pieces) is 140 calories or 4 points plus values.

Have you tried any of the Goldfish Puffs?

Progresso Light Chicken Corn Chowder

Out of all the chowders, corn chowder is my only favorite, so when I spotted the Progresso Light Chicken Corn Chowder I picked it up. My initial thought was “a corn chowder that’s point friendly?” Count me in!

It’s not as thick as standard corn chowder, it’s more of a soup consistency, which is understandable considering it’s a light soup – but regardless it’s quite delicious. I added a bit of black pepper which really helped boost the flavor and in my opinion tied everything together. The chicken in it is “meh” as most chicken in canned soups tend to be but it’s not terrible.  On the plus side there’s bacon in it … and everything is better with bacon!  It’s tasty, hearty and has a little bit of a homemade vibe to it.  I quite enjoyed it, which is surprising since I’m not a big fan of canned soups.

Each serving (1 cup) is 100 calories which is 2 points plus, or the whole can is 200 calories and 5 pints plus values.  Worth it in my opinion.

What is your favorite Progresso soup?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lunch: Po-taco

What is a Po-taco you ask? Well, it’s what I call the Frankenstein dish you get when you combine a baked potato and ground taco meat. I enjoy this because it’s filling, a unique flavor and I truly don’t miss the taco shell, tortilla chips or the soft tortillas.

Typically on taco nights I have a salad, but this is a nice shake up in the general gist of things. I had mixed up a batch of ground turkey taco meat for dinner, and I happened to use some of the leftovers for this – so this is what I ended up having for lunch the following day.  I cooked a potato in the microwave (7 ounces) and when done I cut it down the middle, seasoned with black pepper then loaded it with 3 ounces of turkey taco meat, then topped it off with 2 tablespoons chunky salsa.

The entire thing was only 7 points plus values and it was very satisfying and filling.

How do you enjoy your tacos?

Garden Lites Veggie Chili & Cornbread Melt

While at the “super” Target I noticed they carried the full array of Garden Lites frozen dishes, so I picked up the Garden Lites Veggie Chili & Cornbread Melt. I had tried one of the Garden Lites soufflés over a year and a half ago and wasn’t a fan … but I decided to give them another go – and I’m glad I did.

This particular entre caught my attention not only because it looked delicious – but the fact it had cornbread in it!  I love chili and I love cornbread, so I figured it had to be a perfect match. Even though the plastic on my dish ripped taking it out of the box, I heated the dish up per the box directions. It didn’t dry out, it just made a little bit of a mess while cooking. But nonetheless it was delicious. The chili was flavorful, packed with veggies and beans. The cornbread was delicious while also nice and soft. The cheese on top of the chili was complimentary of the flavors without being overwhelmingly cheddary.  I really enjoyed these and plan on picking up another dish next time I’m near the Target that caries all the flavors.

One thing I enjoy about the Garden Lites brand is the fact the Weight Watchers Points Plus Values are printed on the back of the box. I certainly helps in making deciding what to try easier because I don’t have to individually calculate each box.

A serving (the whole dish) is 200 calories or 5 points plus values. Quite worth it for what you get!

What is your favorite frozen chili?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

I’ll be the first to admit – I’m not the biggest fan of dark chocolate. In fact … I’m not really a fan. But I spotted these Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups for 99 cents (instead of the large tub of them that are usually sold) and decided to give them a try. I figured with peanut butter involved … you can’t quite go wrong … and boy was I right.

I opened up the bag to have one as a snack and was pleasantly surprised with how delicious they were. The chocolate is a rich, smooth dark chocolate flavor which is creamy and melts in your mouth. The peanut butter is smooth, creamy, flavorful and the center (and quite literally) of attention. The dark chocolate and peanut butter truly play off one another perfectly.  I found one was enough to satisfy my sweet tooth.

I shared the bag with my boyfriend who on the other hand quite enjoyed them and polished off the rest of the bag – minus one, leaving that one for me to have whenever I wanted it.  I think that mean he liked them … and I think that means I need to pick up another bag when I go back to Trader Joe’s!

A serving (3 pieces) is 180 calories or 5 points plus values.

What is your favorite peanut butter cup?

Delicata Squash

While at Trader Joe’s I spotted the Delicata Squash and picked one up. I happen to love squash and I had never tried this particular type so I was a little excited.  While checking out the cashier had let me know that because the skin on the squash is so thin, if roasted, you can eat the skin.

Delicata squash is a yellow squash with green, almost, lining/spotting running throughout the skin.  It’s a winter squash and can truly be cooked in any way you enjoy – roasted, microwaved, steamed or sautéed.  I decided to go with the roasting method because that’s how I most enjoy my squashes.  I cut the squash in half, scooped out the seeds and put them skin side down on a baking sheet and put them into a 350 degree oven for roughly 30 minutes.

They came out perfect. Nice and tender, the skins were soft (and edible, I was quite surprised). It tastes of squash, but it’s a sweet squash and is a little reminiscent of sweet potato.  It was perfect plain as is which is how I ended up eating mine. From what I’ve heard you could even stuff these with whatever you choose and have a delicata squash boat.  I enjoyed it so much when I go to Trader Joe’s this week I plan on picking up at least a few more.

Do you have a favorite squash?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Mama Mancini’s Turkey Meatballs

While at the grocery store I was hungry and considering I didn’t really want to end up in a drive thru before heading home I decided to just pick something up I could heat up quickly. I ended up grabbing a pack of Mama Mancini’s Turkey Meatballs to heat up and have with some spaghetti squash.

I have never had this brand of heat and eat turkey meatballs before, but considering the nutrition facts weren’t terrible I opted to give them a try. Heating them in the microwave, I topped my spaghetti squash with some sauce and 2 meatballs and I have to say… they’re not bad! They’re not the greatest meatball I have ever had, but they’re decent for a quick on-the-go type of meal. The outside of the meatballs are softer and they are mildly flavored. The sauce is good but it’s very thin and a bit watery.

2 meatballs are 110 calories or 3 points plus values.

Have you tried any of the Mama Mancini’s products?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Boo Berry Cereal

One of my favorite parts of October, outside of Halloween and dressing up is picking up one of my favorite Halloween breakfast items- Boo Berry Cereal! From what I understand this is available year round at some stores, but for the most part in my area (at least from what I’ve seen) this is only available from September through November.

Boo Berry cereal is similar to Lucky Charms being there are marshmallow bits throughout the cereal. The cereal itself is blueberry flavored. Like most flavored cereals, this changes the milk to a lovely blue hue and sweetens it up as well.  I don’t typically eat sweeter cereals for breakfast, but this is an exception to the rule every year.

A serving of cereal is 1 cup – but typically I find a ¾ cup cereal is more than enough, especially if I am going to be pairing the cereal with milk and a piece of fresh fruit.  A 1 cup serving is 130 calories or 4 points plus values.  A ¾ cup serving is only 3 points plus values. It’s definitely worth it for a once yearly treat.

Do you have a favorite Halloween themed cereal?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Dinner: Country style pork ribs, potato and salad

This is a delicious dinner I had this weekend. Yes, that’s a marvelous thing about Weight Watchers – I can eat homemade barbecue without guilt and it’s deliciously fabulous.

Country style pork ribs were on sale at a local grocery store, so I picked up a pack. Since I was going to be gone for the better half of the day, I asked my mother if she wouldn’t mind making some ribs (she makes the best ribs, BTW). She agreed, so she whipped up a batch – typically she boils them with vinegar, water and an onion and then bakes them off in the oven with some barbecue sauce. Usually it’s a homemade sauce, but she decided to use Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce.

I requested that she leave my ribs aside (after baking for a few minutes) for me to pull the meat off the bone, separate the fat and mix with barbecue sauce. I ended up getting two meals out of it.

What I had for dinner was 3 oz country style pork ribs (off the bone) w/ sweet baby rays bbq sauce (7 ppv), 5 oz potato (3ppv) & side salad w/ 1 tbsp light italian (0 ppv). It was a delicious 10 points plus and worth every point!

Do you like having barbecue for dinner?

Trader Joe’s Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli

Since I am a pumpkin aficionado when I spotted the Trader Joe’s Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli I of course added it to my shopping cart. I figured: pasta and pumpkin how can you go wrong? Now I admit, the last time I tried Trader Joe’s ravioli (the lobster ravioli) it did not end well.

I cooked them per the box directions. I brought salted water up to boil. Once boiling I added the ravioli to it and let them cook for almost 3-minutes until they began to float a bit. The texture had visibly changed, so I removed them from the water. I added my ravioli to a bowl and spritzed with some spray butter.

These were very enjoyable. The pasta was perfect, nice, chewy and fresh. The filling was perfectly pumpkin – a bit sweet and very reminiscent of pumpkin pie filling.  It was a perfect little meal (which I enjoyed for lunch). But if you were to have this for dinner or wanted to bulk this up to make it more filling you could add a protein to the side that would compliment the pumpkin flavor.

A serving is half the package (5 ravioli) and 240 calories, which is 6 points plus values.

What is your favorite ravioli?

PopChips Katy’s Kettle Corn

I have seen the PopChips Katy’s Kettle Corn at Target for the longest time. In all honesty, I refrained from picking them up because kettle corn is not one of my favorite snacks. While out shopping I found individual bags on sale at one of my local dollar stores for 50 cents, so I grabbed a bag to give it a try. This way, if I didn’t like it, it was 50 cents “wasted”.

The Popchips are light, airy and crispy like normal PopChips are. They are flavored with a mildly sweet coating. It’s actually not overwhelming (with that sugar flavor or even the artificial sweetener flavor) like some kettle corn popcorns can be.  It’s a good balance between savory and sweet. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed these and will most likely repurchase at some point when I’m looking for a sweet, crispy potato chip like snack.

A serving is 130 calories for roughly 16 chips, which is 3 points plus values.

What is your favorite PopChips flavor?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Homemade Chicken Shawarma Sandwiches

Chicken shawarma sandwiches are one of my favorite Lebanese dishes. I enjoy them so much that I purchase the shawarma seasoning at my local Lebanese store and make them at home. Although my shawarma sandwiches are slightly different than a shawarma you’d get at a restaurant.

Incase you’re not familiar with shawarma it’s an Arabic dish that consists of either chicken, lamb, beef, turkey or veal that has been seasoned with spices and grilled or “roasted” on a spit. If cooked on a rotating spit, the meat is trimmed off and added to your sandwich. I’ve had shawarma that way while in NYC, but back at home I’ve always had it grilled or cooked on a hot top. The sandwiches are usually encased in pita bread.

Shawarma can be served up in a number of ways – really depending on where you get the sandwich from.  It can be served with tabbouleh, tomato, lettuce, cucumber, tahini, hummus, pickled turnips, pickle, garlic mayonnaise, hot sauce, etc.

Making the dish at home, I clean and cut up my chicken into small chunks. I then make my shawarma seasoning, which is mixed with water.  The directions call to marinate the meat and grill up after marinating, but I pour the marinade over the chicken, add in tomato, garlic and onion and I bake it off in the oven for roughly 30-40 minutes.  After it’s cooled for about 5 minutes, I add in a few tablespoons of hummus to help thicken the “sauce”.  I serve the chicken, tomato and onion mixture on pita bread, with lettuce, red onion, and tabbouleh.

It’s completely delicious, filling and it’s a nice ode to a classic sandwich.  The whole sandwich pictured is only 9 points plus values. Worth it? You betcha!

Do you make your own version of a classic sandwich at home?

Strong Confident You Giveaway Prize!

Last month I entered a giveaway on the Mama Love blog ( where a shirt from the Strong Confident You Etsy shop ( was being given away. The great thing was that when you won, you were able to choose any shirt of your choice.  I was e-mailed by Sarah advising that I had won and I was so excited! I don’t typically win a lot of raffles, so this was a great pick-me-up!

I browsed the website and the moment I laid eyes on this t-shirt I knew it was the one I wanted.  The shirt says “Earn your Body. Own your mind.” It’s totally a quote I believe in and live by. Obtaining the body I now have has been a lot of hard work over the last 3 ½ years. I still have a ways to go, but I’ve earned this and my mind is my own – no one can change my thinking or my thoughts.

I received my shirt in the mail and was very excited. I will say, the shirt runs on the smaller size, but the fabric is so soft and comfortable. I totally see this as being my new weigh-in shirt and even a new gym shirt.

Thomas’ Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice English Muffins

I’ve seen these Thomas’ Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice English Muffins at my local grocery store for a few weeks and I admit I refrained from purchasing because they were not on sale. Who knew English muffins were $5+ a pack if not on sale? Not I for sure! This past week Thomas’ products were on sale for $2 a pack, so I picked one up because I’ve wanted to try it.

The English muffins are very fragrant in the bag. So fragrant I was expecting a burst of pumpkin spice – perhaps even a little overload upon first bite. The muffins are fork split which makes taking it apart easier. I toasted it up, and I will say they are very soft – softer than your average English muffin.  I added some peanut butter and a few slices of banana to it for breakfast.  But … I have to say these don’t taste anything like they smell. They taste almost plain. The pumpkin flavor is there but it’s so mild it’s almost unrecognizable. I wasn’t wowed by them and I haven’t had another since I first tried it.  It’s not that they aren’t any good … it’s just not the flavor category I was anticipating.

A whole muffin is 150 calories or 4 points plus values.

What is your favorite English muffin flavor?

Trader Joe’s Fully Cooked Season Pork Roast with Barbecue Sauce

When it comes to barbecue I am a full-on barbecue pork fan. Ribs, chops, you name it its delicious because barbecue is meant to be delicious. I don’t really go into the beef barbecue rib realm because in my opinion, pork barbecue is where it’s at. Admittedly I don’t always have the time to make barbecue (outside of in my crock pot for pulled pork/chicken). So that’s where Trader Joe’s Fully Cooked Season Pork Roast with Barbecue Sauce steps in.

I originally purchased this many, many moons ago to try out because it sounded tasty and the picture on the bag looked tasty. What caught my attention was that the pork roast is already cooked and in barbecue sauce – all that I needed to do was heat it up in the oven. I will say since trying this, it has been a repurchase for me on numerous occasions.

The pork roast itself is meaty, tender and flavorful. There are a few pieces of fat that run through it, but it’s nothing overwhelming – you can truly see it, pull it out and you’re good to go. The barbecue sauce is a ideally what a barbecue sauce should be.  For comparison purposes, I’d probably compare it to a Sweet Baby Ray’s but it’s not as tangy.  The meat itself is very tender where you can shred it with a fork.  It’s definitely a homerun in my opinion.

A 5 ounce serving (with sauce) is 225 calories or 6 points plus values.

What is your favorite barbecue food?

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Waffles

I spotted these Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Waffles at the store a number of times, while I’ve also seen an Eggo version at Target. I held back on purchasing because we had other breakfast items at home (frozen waffles, bagels, English muffins, toast, etc.) But during a quick Trader Joe’s run I decided just to pick them up because … I’m a pumpkin fanatic. What can I say?

I popped two in the toaster to heat through and crisp up. Since they’re frozen there wasn’t an immediate pumpkin smell – and there wasn’t one even while heating these in the toaster. I drizzled them with a tablespoon of maple syrup and dug in … but I have to admit I was mildly disappointed.  I mean, they’re good because they are waffles and waffles are pretty hard to screw up (unless you burn them). BUT with these the pumpkin flavor is so mild you really can’t even detect it and it tastes like a plain waffle.  So if you’re looking for an obvious pumpkin flavor, these don’t pack that punch.

A serving is 2 waffles, which are 180 calories or 5 points plus values.

What is your favorite flavored waffle?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Autumn Chicken Pasta

I was inspired by a Skinnytaste recipe but decided to throw a spin on it since I had chicken out to cook and not sausage and ground beef.  I was actually at Trader Joe’s when I spotted the brussel sprouts and pulled up the Skinnytaste recipe to have a peak since I had never looked at the regular recipe before then (I’d only seen the picture of it).

Deciding since it was later in the afternoon and I didn’t want to head to my regular grocery store, I’d make due with what I had on hand and what I could pick up at Trader Joe’s.  With that a lot of the ingredients I used are Trader Joe’s brand, but comparable products can be picked up at a regular grocery store.

This was a delicious meal. Quite interesting with the brussel sprouts in it, and the flavor category was fabulous. Packed with flavor, a heaping serving and the leftovers were able to marinate a little further while in the refrigerator overnight.

Serves 6. 1 ¾ cup serving. 10 Points Plus Values.
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 1/8 lbs boneless, skinless chicken, cut into small chunks
  • 28 oz. can of Trader Joe’s Trader Giotto’s Low Fat Tuscano Marinara Sauce (you can substitute with another variation of low-fat marinara sauce)
  • 12 oz. spaghetti (I used Barilla White Fiber Spaghetti)
  • 10 oz. shaved brussel sprouts
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp Trader Joe’s 21 Season Salute
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp water (optional)

Add raw chicken to a bowl, season with garlic powder a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Toss to combine, stabbing the chicken with a fork to get the flavor into the chicken pieces.

Fill a large pot with salted water. Once brought to a boil, add in your spaghetti and cook until (I recommend) al dente.

In a large non-stick skillet, add 1 ½ tsp olive oil to the bottom of the pan. Once hot add in garlic and let sauté for roughly 30 seconds before adding in the brussel sprouts - season with remaining salt and pepper.

Saute the brussel sprouts for 5-7 minutes until they begin to soften.  If they begin to stick to the pan add in 1 tablespoon of water at a time until cooked through. Remove brussel sprouts from the pan and set aside.

In the same non-stick skillet, add the remaining 1 ½ tsp of olive oil to the pan. Once hot, add in chicken and let brown and crisp up on both sides until cooked through. Try not to move the chicken much on each side to allow it to brown and get some color.

Once chicken is cooked, combine with brussel sprouts and toss. Pour in can of sauce and begin to add spaghetti, tossing to ensure the whole dish is combined and coated with sauce.

Remove from the flame and enjoy!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle – Toffee Crunch

I’m a big fan of brownie brittle, so when I spotted the Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle – Toffee Crunch I picked up a bag. Brownie brittle is a snack/dessert that is your classic milk chocolate brownie flavor, but it’s thin and crispy like a crunchy, crispy cookie.

In a similar fashion to the other brownie brittle varieties available, the brittle brownie brittle is topped with a bit of added sweetness. The toffee crunch variety is topped with toffee, but it’s not hard pieces of toffee, it resembles melted toffee which is slightly chewy and slightly sticks to your teeth when eating. I don’t find it to be overly sweet, I think it’s a perfect level of sweetness..  It’s crunchy, chocolaty, delicious, and somewhat addicting. It’s great on its own, but it’s also good accompanying a small bowl of vanilla ice cream.

My local wholesale club sells the chocolate chip variety, but from what I’ve heard the other varieties are available at stores like Bed Bath and Beyond – but I have also found them at the Christmas Tree Shop.

A 6 piece serving is 120 calories or 3 points plus values.

Have you tried brownie brittle?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Trader Joe’s “This Pumpkin walks into a Bar…” Cereal Bars

In honor of my pumpkin adoration, I picked up a box of Trader Joe’s “This Pumpkin walks into a Bar…” Cereal Bars. I personally have not tried any of the cereal bars at Trader Joe’s, so what better introduction to them than a pumpkin one?  Plus with a pun in its name (the same pun is in all the Trader Joe’s cereal bars names) it makes for a conversational piece.

When opening the package, I was rewarded with a nice pumpkin spiced scent. The bars are truthfully your average cereal bar – hearty, flavorful and they do the trick.  The bars are not overly sweet, which is appreciated because sometimes sweet first thing in the morning is not what I am looking for.  They have a nutty, whole grain characteristic to them as most cereal bars tend to have. The filling is not very sweet, but there is a nice underlying pumpkin flavor throughout the whole thing. It makes me feel a little “healthier” when eating this, over some of the other pumpkin bars out on the market this time of the year.  Regardless, this is yummy and I did enjoy it.

Each bar is 140 calories or 4 points plus values.

Have you tried any of the cereal bars at Trader Joe’s?

Garden Lites Pumpkin Spice Souffle

I spotted this Garden Lites Pumpkin Spice Souffle at Target and into my cart it went. I admit, at first when I saw the words “pumpkin spice” and “souffle” in the same sentence I was a little apprehensive. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a rewarding food experience. But there’s a little saying that says “don’t judge a book by its cover” so I tried not to.

After calculating the points plus values, I was quite excited to see the points plus values are actually notated on the box. Once I found this, it made looking at other flavor options a breeze.

One day I wanted something pumpkiny for dessert. Wrinkling my nose at the options presented to me, I decided to give the pumpkin spice soufflé a shot.  I heated it up in the microwave per the box directions. After letting it cool for a few minutes I tried it and was very impressed from that very first bite. It tasted just like pumpkin pie filling.  I decided to jazz it up just a little more with a tablespoon of sugar free maple syrup over the top … and it was sinfully delicious! It was undoubtedly pumpkin spice – but more pumpkin than spice which I truly appreciated. It wasn’t eggy in the least bit, but it did have a little bit of a creamy quality to it on the tongue which was reminiscent of custard. Overall, delicious – and so delicious that I made sure to pick up another box on my last trip through Target.

A serving (the whole bowl – 7 ounces) is 190 calories or 5 points plus values.

Have you tried any of the Garden Lites soufflés? If so, which one(s) is/are your favorite?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Lunch: Spaghetti Squash w/ Meatballs, Sauce and Garlic Bread

I was going to my boyfriend’s uncle’s house this weekend, with his mother and him to visit. I knew his mother was making homemade sauce and meatballs and since I didn’t want to tote along a measuring cup (because I visually can’t judge what a cup of pasta looks like), I decided to bring spaghetti squash to share with everyone.  I like bringing healthier alternatives to the table, regardless of where I am, and this was a perfect opportunity.

I had baked my spaghetti squash (seasoned with salt and pepper) the afternoon prior, shredded it and put it into the refrigerator.  I was quite pleased with how my spaghetti squash turned out because the last few I have made came out very wet. This one was perfect and reminiscent of al dente pasta.  The squash itself tastes like squash, but it does adapt to the flavors it’s paired with and due to it’s spaghetti like characteristics it makes for easy twirling on a fork.

At my boyfriends uncles we ended up having a late lunch. I had a helping of spaghetti squash, a ladle of homemade sauce and one meatball. I also had a small helping of garlic bread. It was a perfect meal – delicious, satisfying and I honestly didn’t miss the pasta.  And to think I was a little afraid of trying spaghetti squash with pasta sauce … now I’m a huge fan. So much of a fan I had spaghetti squash with pasta sauce for lunch the next day!

Do you like incorporating spaghetti squash into meals?

Trader Joe’s Greek Yogurt Nonfat Honey

I’ve been on a Greek yogurt jaunt as of late trying out new flavors. I’m content with the brands I typically purchase at my regular grocery store – but I’m finding I’m really enjoying the Greek yogurts at Trader Joe’s.  With that, I decided to pick up the Trader Joe’s Greek Yogurt Nonfat Honey.

I was hoping this yogurt would be along the lines of the Trader Joe’s Nonfat Mango but it was a little thicker than the mango and it was a LOT tarter.  Very tart.  I could taste the honey flavor, but the tartness of the yogurt made my face pucker. I did add a little artificial sweetener to it to help sweeten it up a bit, but even that couldn’t cut the tartness.  It wasn’t bad, I ate it with some strawberries and blueberries, but I probably wouldn’t repurchase it again because I’m not really a fan of tart yogurt.

Each cup houses a single serving, which are 120 calories or 3 points plus values.

What is your favorite Greek yogurt flavor?

Trader Joe’s Many Clove Garlic Cooking & Simmer Sauce

I spotted and picked up a jar of Trader Joe’s Many Clove Garlic Cooking & Simmer Sauce what felt like many moons ago. I’m a huge fan of garlic, so I immediately wanted to give this a try. So I purchased it ... and then was puzzled as to what to do with it. Since I had never tried it before, I wasn’t sure of how intensely garlic it would be.

After seeing it in the cabinet time after time, I decided to give it a go … and I went about it in the “safest” way possible. I used my crock pot!  I took a pack of chicken (roughly 1 ½ - 2 pounds) out of the freezer, let it defrost and cleaned the fat off it. I put the chicken into the crock pot, covered it with the jar of sauce, put a lid on my crock pot and set it on high. I let it cook for 6 ½ hours and it came out perfectly.

I served it up with baked potato, green beans and I happened to have a side of beets with my dinner. It was perfect – the sauce on the chicken was delicious! The chicken was moist and the garlic flavor was perfect. A plus side too with this is that even though it was cooking in my crock pot, it did not make my entire house smell like a field of garlic or like I was trying to ward off vampires.

On my last trip through Trader Joe’s I did pick another jar of this sauce up. I plan on trying a pasta dish with it … and I have a feeling it’ll come out fabulously.

A ½ cup serving of the sauce is 70 calories or 2 points plus values.

Have you tried the Many Clove Garlic Cooking & Simmer Sauce?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate Ganache

I was struck with inspiration when thinking about what I wanted to do for my boyfriend’s birthday. Should I buy a cake or make a cake?  Buying a cake is an easy way out, even though it is a nice gesture, but premade cakes at bakeries can get pricey. Whereas making a cake shows you’ve put work in. I think it means a lot more and it’s a lot cheaper to make your own cake than to buy one.  With the back and fourth in my head, I finally decided on making a cake.  The only golden rule I went by was the cake base had to be chocolate because that’s my boyfriend’s favorite.  The rest was up to me to get creative with … and I ran with that creativity.

Lately we’ve both been on a peanut butter kick. So I thought, why not bring two delicious worlds together? Peanut butter and chocolate? I decided on making a peanut butter cream cheese frosting … but that in itself wasn’t enough, so I decided to make a chocolate ganache for the top of the cake to help draw together the whole cake and to cut on the sweetness of the frosting.

The end result was a delicious, perfect harmony. The cake was moist and delicious, the frosting was spectacular and the chocolate ganache truly held it all together and kept it from being sickeningly sweet.  We had family and friends over for dinner and all were equally impressed with the cake and I even got a few “you made that?!”

If you’re a peanut butter and chocolate fan … I highly suggest you give this a try. It’s quite simple to pull together!

8 Points Plus Values. Serves 12.
  • 1 box, Betty Crocker Super Moist Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix
  • 12 oz can Diet Coke (or Diet Pepsi or any diet clear colored soda of your choice)
  • 8 oz. 1/3 Less Fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • 9 TBSP PB2 (Powdered Peanut Butter)
  • 1 1/3 cup powder sugar
  • ¼ cup fat free skim milk & 1 TBSP
  • 3 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Non-stick cooking spray
Allow cream cheese to warm to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or per box directions based on your cooking pan coloring).

In a large bowl combine cake mix and can of diet coke. Mix well until all combined.

Spray two cake pans with non-stick cooking spray. Distribute combined batter to each cake pan as evenly as possible.  Place pans into oven and bake per box directions.  When cakes are done allow them to cool completely.

In a large bowl combine cream cheese, powder sugar, vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk. With an electric mixer blend until smooth. Frosting will be very thick so begin to add the 1/3 cup of water 1 tablespoon at a time. The frosting should be thick, but smooth and not runny.

Transfer frosting to a bowl, cover with a lid and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to “harden” up a bit.

When cakes are cool, smear roughly 1 tsp of frosting to the bottom of a cake dish to hold the bottom layer cake. Place cake cooked side up face down and smear top of cake with roughly ¼ of the frosting.

Remove additional cake from pan and invert. Place bottom of cake to the frosted cake – then frost top and sides with remaining frosting.

In a medium bowl add in semi sweet chocolate chips and ¼ cup milk and place into the microwave for 20 seconds. Remove from microwave, blend chocolate and milk together and return to the microwave in 20 second increments until the mixture is smooth.

Allow the chocolate mixture to cool for roughly 2 minutes, until almost luke warm then begin to smooth onto the cake. Start at the center and gently blend outward. Don’t go all the way to the edge of the cake. Continue gently smoothing until all chocolate is spread to the top of the cake.

Cover the cake and allow to sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (I left mine in the fridge almost 24-hrs) before serving.

Cut into 12 equal pieces and enjoy!