Sunday, February 24, 2013

Weight Watchers Mint Cookies & Cream Smoothie

I spotted this new Weight Watchers brand Mint Cookies & Cream Smoothie at my Weight Watchers meeting this week.  I gasped, grabbed a box and walked up to pay for it.  A few weeks back I took a sip of my boyfriends Shamrock Shake from McDonald’s and was in heaven (for a millisecond).  I’m not a huge lover of mint ice cream, but I do enjoy a subtle mint frozen treat here and there (Skinny Cow Mint Sandwiches, Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream, etc.).

Typically when I make a Weight Watchers smoothie I add ice cubes and frozen fruit (along with a banana) to the mixture.  With mint, your options are kind of limited, so I decided to just throw this in a blender with some water and a handful of ice cubes.  I blended it up, poured it into a cup and upon first sip was pleasantly surprised!  It was DELICIOUS and totally curbs any Shamrock Shake dreams.  Of course since I made it with water and ice cubes it was very thin – but I’m going to begin experimenting with this, adding in some (frozen) greek yogurt, maybe some fat free ice cream, etc.,  Anything to help make it a little thicker … perhaps even a cup of unsweetened almond milk.  But nonetheless it’s totally delicious and a great snack.  I find it’s extremely filling so it’s a nice filler.

Have you tried any of the Weight Watchers smoothies?

Sriracha flavored Lay’s Potato Chips

Firstly, I will say I spotted these new limited edition Sriracha flavored Lay’s Potato Chips from across the supermarket.  My grocery chain had them on an end display aisles away from the potato chip section.  I only purchased these because I’ve developed an immense love for sriracha – to the point I put it on a lot of the things I eat (eggs, deli sandwiches, hamburgers, pizza, etc.)

I have been enjoying these as a snack, not with a sandwich or anything, but it would be a great addition to a sandwich that needs a little pep to its step.  Flavor wise I feel they do give the illusion of the fact you are eating sriracha chips.  If you break down the flavor layers, I would say there’s a bit of ketchup, hot sauce, garlic and a vinegary zing to them. They’re definitely unique and quite delicious.  I personally don’t find them to be scalding hot as some “hot” or “fire” labeled potato chips can be (such as Red Hots).  These are definitely spicy, but they’re not scalding your mouth and leaving you a fire breathing dragon hot.  They’ve got a nice spice element to them.  Great limited edition flavor, Lay’s!  My one request is that you make this a staple flavor in your line!

Weight Watchers Points Plus wise, 1 ounce of potato chips will run you 4 PPV’s.

Have you tried any of the new limited edition Lay’s?

Breakfast: Chocolate Fiber One w/ Fresh Fruit & Almond Milk

This is what I had for breakfast this morning.  I used to be a big lover of Fiber One cereal (the regular kind) until I started eating too much of it.  I saw this at the store and decided to pick it up because 1) it was chocolate and 2) it’s fiber filled cereal.  I have issues with cereals sometimes, especially when they’re not filling because a few hours after eating I find my blood sugar takes a nose dive and I’m left feeling dizzy.  I tend to eat protein packed meals and that helps keep my levels stabilized and also keeps my hunger at bay.  Anyway!

I had ¾ cup of Chocolate Fiber One, 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk, 4 sliced strawberries and a small sliced banana.  It was totally delicious and only 3 Weight Watchers Points for the whole bowl.  A great, filling, healthy breakfast!

Have you tried any of the Fiber One cereals?

FREE Papa John’s Pepperoni Thin Crust Pizza

Right before the Super Bowl Papa John’s sent an e-mail out allowing recipients to vote as to what would be called at the Super Bowl during the coin toss.  The choices were, of course, heads or tails.  The stipulation was if you picked the correct choice the day after the Super Bowl Papa John’s would e-mail you a unique promo code for a free large 1-topping pizza of your choice.  Those that choose the incorrect side of the coin were still awarded, I believe, a 50% off your order coupon code.

I picked heads and heads was called so I received my promo code as stated, the next day.  Later in the week my boyfriend and I didn’t have dinner plans and decided to just order a pizza from Papa John’s.  We got our staple pepperoni (the boyfriends choice, I’d be happy with cheese or banana pepper ring!) but I requested a thin crust pie this time (mainly to shave the calories and points associated with a slice off).

The thin crust pizza was pretty good.  I find on the short commute home from the pizzeria (about 7 minutes) Papa’s thin crust never really survives the colder temperatures out doors (even in a warm car).  The pizza was rather luke warm when we got it home – but nonetheless it was free and dinner was served!

Each slice was 7 points plus – of course the point value would increase slightly depending on the amount of pizza you consumed.  I had 2 slices and it was 15 Points Plus.

Did you win a free pizza from Papa John’s during this promotion?

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Lean Cuisine Salad Additions – Southwest-style Chicken

After trying out the Lean Cuisine Salad Addition in the Asian-style Chicken flavor I decided to expand my horizon.  While grocery shopping at Target I found a few new flavor options that I had not seen at my first trip to Wal-Mart so I picked up the Southwest-style Chicken flavor.

This flavor was quite delicious!  I would say it is spicy (as Southwestern dishes tend to be) but not overwhelmingly spicy.  The product comes with 3 individual plastic bags inside of the box.  You microwave the pouch containing the chicken and vegetables for the set amount of time.  Soak the dressing packet in warm water (to defrost it) and simply open the crunchy topping when your food is ready to assemble.  The only “work” that goes into this salad is the minimal preparation; which consists of making your own salad (or dumping bagged salad into a bowl as I did), microwaving, opening pouches and consuming.

The Southwest-style chicken comes with grilled chicken, black beans, corn, roasted red peppers and poblano peppers.  For a crunchy topping there are crispy tortilla strips and it comes with a chipolte ranch dressing.   Overall I highly recommend these – they’re a great, quick and easy lunch/dinner.

Weight Watchers Points Plus wise this will cost you 6 Points Plus, which I feel is justifiable.

Have you tried any of the Lean Cuisine Salad Additions?

Lean Cuisine Salad Additions – Asian-style Chicken

When I saw Lean Cuisine came out with these new Salad Additions, I instantly picked up this Asian-style Chicken because out of the line that was available at my local Wal-Mart (at the time) was very limited (2 flavors).  I wasn’t sure if it was going to be good – the good ole skeptic that I can be when it comes to frozen foods.  I will admit, I’m not the biggest fan of Lean Cuisine frozen dinners but I felt I would give this one a shot.  I mean, it’s salad, right?

I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by this!  The product comes with 3 individual plastic bags inside of the box.  You microwave the pouch containing the chicken and vegetables for the set amount of time.  Soak the dressing packet in warm water (to defrost it) and simply open the crunchy topping when your food is ready to assemble.  The only “work” that goes into this salad is the minimal preparation; which consists of making your own salad (or dumping bagged salad into a bowl as I did), microwaving, opening pouches and consuming.

The Asian-style chicken came with grilled chicken, edamame, pineapple, broccoli and carrots.  For a crunchy topping there are chow mein noodles and it comes with a really delicious sesame ginger salad vinaigrette.   Overall I highly recommend these – they’re a great, quick and easy lunch/dinner.

Weight Watchers Points Plus wise this will cost you 7 Points Plus, which I feel is truly justifiable.

Have you tried any of the Lean Cuisine Salad Additions?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Garden Veggie Straws – Zesty Ranch

While shopping at BJ’s I saw they had the individual servings of the Garden Veggie Straws by Sensible Portions and interestingly enough they had a Zesty Ranch included in with the original flavor.  Of course, that meant I had to purchase them at that very instant.  Within the huge case there were 12 individual size bags of both the Zesty Ranch and the Original veggie straws.  If you’re unfamiliar with these veggie straws, they’re a mixture of potato, spinach and tomato which are formed into a straw shape.

The Zesty Ranch straws are good – they’re definitely a bit of a “zing” with the ranch.  But then again, it does state “Zesty” in the description.  The straws provide a nice crunchy snack to anyone looking for a healthier alternative to chips.  A serving is somewhere around 30 straws, which is quite a generous portion.

Weight Watchers Points Plus wise a serving will cost you 3 points plus.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Morning Star Garden Vegetable Patties & Veggie Dogs

While at Target I picked up a box of Morning Star Garden Vegetable Patties and a box of Veggie Dogs using coupons I received from BzzAgent.  One for a free box and the other for $1 off.  This particular week Morning Star products were on sale for $2.99 so I got the box of hot dogs for right under $2.

I have had Morning Star products in the past and have found that out of the vegetarian options out there these were my favorite out of the few different ones I’ve tried (i.e., Boca Burgers).  I’ve tried a number of different options Morning Star sells (breakfast sausage, spicy black bean burgers, chick’n nuggets, and pre-packaged frozen meals) and there has yet to be one that I’ve disliked.  The two that I happened to purchase this time around are two flavors that I have not tried in the past.

The Veggie Dogs were quite interesting because I wasn’t sure what to expect.  They were simple to make (microwaved for 1 minute) and I enjoyed them on a slice of bread, topped with staple hot dog condiments – mustard, relish and reduced sugar ketchup.  They do have a relatively similar texture to skinless hot dogs but they have a distinct smell (not completely appalling, but noticeable).  I found myself eating these almost everyday as a snack or an in-between meal.  Since I am a Weight Watchers member I found them to be perfect on the Points Plus scale – ringing in at 1 PPV each.

The Garden Vegetable Patties were quite delicious!  I decided to have two patties for lunch because I was absolutely starving.  I cooked them through in the microwave, per the box directions.  When done I served them up on wheat flax pitas and topped the burgers with a tablespoon of Trader Joe’s Reduced Guilt Guacamole, spicy brown mustard, reduced sugar ketchup, fresh sliced tomatoes, sliced onion and bagged lettuce.  For a sandwich filled with vegetables, it was packed with flavor and so yummy.  As an avid meat eater – the meat was not missed in this particular meal.  It was delicious.  Point Plus wise it was 3 PPV for one patty, or 5 PPV for two patties.

Overall I find the Morning Star brand to be highly favorable – packed with flavor, low on caloric stats and extremely versatile.  The flavors of the burgers and products are not completely overwhelming and blend well with added flavors.

Have you tried Morning Star products? If so, what’s your favorite flavor?

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Never be afraid to ask for what you want at a restaurant!

Never be afraid to ask for what you want at a service establishment. You are paying for a serving & you have a right to get what you pay for. If a service establishment refuses to provide you what you request (as long as it's not unreasonable -- don't ask them to go fetch a fish out of the deep sea that they don't even have on the menu) calmly get up and leave. They'll get the hint. Now onto a scenario I stumbled upon this Valentine's Day:

So, my boyfriend and I stayed at a hotel on the beach yesterday for Valentine's Day. We got a great Groupon deal which came with a $10 credit to be used at the hotels restaurant (which we have eaten at before and I knew there was 1 dish that I really enjoyed -- chicken kabobs). When we got there, the chicken kabobs were no longer part of the newly revised menu (which is not reflected on their website BTW). So being the stringent WW person that I am I asked if they could tell me the sirloin weight in ounces (so I could justify the points because even 3 years in I'm not good with judging portions -- the hand thing doesn't work for me because I have BIG hands - damn those Jamaican genes lol). I was told 8 ounces and I felt that wasn't worth it ... so I asked if there was any way I could have just a plain ole piece of grilled chicken with a plain baked potato and plain steamed veggies (instead of the mashed potato and sauteed chicken monstrosity on the menu that I would be so uncomfortable trying to eat). My waitress walked outback, came back like 5 minutes later and was like "No. You have to order off the menu."

Now, mind you, there's a plain ole piece of chicken on a SANDWICH bread on the other page, and she tried to tell me different seafood dishes (lobster mac and cheese) was delish. Okay, I don't eat seafood, aside from an occasional piece of fried fish, and I'm asking for grilled chicken and you're telling me about mac and cheese? I looked at my boyfriend (who was starving btw lol) and he said "C'mon lets drive around we can find some place that'll give you what you want." I wanted to squeeze him. So we got up and left and after walking by the front desk the girl was a little surprised because she knew we had reservations. So I asked her if there was any restaurants around that were open (because it's winter and a lot of places shut down for the winter months) & she asked me what happened. I let her know I was told I HAD to order off the menu and she said that's not true so she got the big guy who runs the restaurant and the hotels food. He came out and told me that grilled chicken is not an unreasonable accommodation and told me and my BF to please come back in and dinner would be on him.

So with this, I say, never be afraid to ask for WHAT YOU WANT at a restaurant. You are paying for a service and if they won't accommodate your request -- simply don't give them your business. Pre-WW I would have said "Screw it, I'll get this and swallow it down" but now? No thanks. Give me my grilled chicken, it's what I planned for LOL!!

Homemade Pea Soup

Ever since I was a little girl my mother ALWAYS made pea soup.  My dad and mom loved it – my aunt makes it – everyone eats it except my brother and I would go “EWE! IT’S GREEN!!” and refuse to eat it, smell it or even taste it.  That is until a few weeks ago – my mother made a big pot of homemade pea soup and asked me if I’d like some.  At first I went “Ew, that’s gross” and I realized I’ve never truly even tasted it.  So I pulled up my Weight Watchers app on my phone, punched in pea soup and was quite surprised that it was only 4 Points Plus for a 1 cup serving.

Because the points were so low I decided to brace myself and actually give it a try.  I was surprised with how GOOD it was!  I can’t believe I’d gone 28 years without trying it before this instance.  It only had a little bit of ham, green split peas, water, 1 potato and a carrot in it.  Deliciously amazing.  I used to never be a soup person but lately I’ve been dappling into the soup world more and more (homemade – not canned) and have been finding I’m really enjoying it!

What is our favorite soup?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Because you're worth it

There are many positives that come with weight loss.  Smaller clothing sizes, healthier stats (blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.), being taken off of medications, and an enriched attitude.  As long as you keep yourself in a positive frame of mind, you’ll be unstoppable.  But, unfortunately, with any success there are individuals who will try to derail your success.  That is intentionally or unintentionally.

On my own personal journey, I’ve found a lot of individuals really embrace my journey and aid in coaching me along.  Those people and the support are awesome and really help in boosting my confidence and keeping me focused.

You just have to be aware that not everyone is going to be your personal cheerleader. It’s important to know that there will be individuals who will try to derail your success.  This isn’t always intentional, while sometimes it is, but it’s best to keep your eye on the prize and not let those words and actions belittle your confidence.  Don’t let that instance be the reason you throw in the towel.  Put your chin up and understand that as long as you are healthy and happy, that is all that matters and everything else is moot.

Unfortunately, this sometimes means distancing yourself from the person(s) that belittle your confidence and road to success.  You don’t have to cut a person out of your life completely (while, some may have to), but you can choose to not be around them for extended periods of time especially if it really starts to grate your nerves.  Be aware of the situation and if you’re able to, calmly explain to the person your feelings.  There’s a 50/50 chance they aren’t even aware they are doing it (such as in the case of food pushers).

Just remember … don’t let another person take hold of your dream and squash it.  The world is your oyster and there’s a whole lot of living to do out there.  So keep your head up, your mind right and keep chugging along because you are worth it.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Quaker Popped Sweet & Salty Rice Snacks

While at Walmart I picked up a bag of these Quaker Popped Sweet and Salty Rice Cakes – which have a mixture of caramel corn and cheddar rice cake snacks in them.  I was surprised that I really quite enjoyed these.  At first it was a little odd – but it was really quite yummy.  Its two classic Quaker Rice Cake flavors mixed together to create a unique experience for your taste buds.  The cheddar crisps are the staple rice cake in a mild cheddar flavoring whereas the caramel corn is a classic rice cake encased in a sweet caramel casing.

There are 14 crisps in a serving which isn’t bad and would be a lot easier to only eat the 14 if you proportioned your snack ahead of time.  I’m not the biggest fan of cheddar snacks, but these were palatable.  One thing I would really love to see from Quaker would be a caramel corn and chocolate mixture – now THAT would be right up my alley!

A serving of these is 3 points plus for the 14 crackers.

Have you tried any Quaker rice cake snacks? If so, what’s your favorite flavor?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Dinner: Simple Homemade Chicken Quesadillas

I made homemade chicken quesadillas for dinner a few weeks back.  I had a craving for them and decided to get a little creative.  Since my boyfriend isn’t a cheese fan I had to make something that was versatile – meaning I could eat it the way I wanted it and he could eat it without it containing cheese.  I started by sautéing some peppers and onions in a pan – my pan was spritzed with Pam to prevent sticking.  I seasoned them very lightly with black pepper and sea salt.  When done I transferred the cooked peppers and onions to a bowl and then heated through a package of original Perdue Short Cuts.  Once it was warmed I set the heated meat into a bowl.

I assembled two fajitas for my boyfriend (not pictured) and went ahead and made myself two quesadillas.  I spritzed my Joseph’s What Flax Tortillas with spray butter, added on ¾ cup chicken, topped with peppers and onions and then equally sprinkled with 1/3 cup of measured fat free mozzarella cheese.  I folded the quesadilla shut, spritzed it with spray butter and cooked it on both sides on medium heat.  When done I cut into triangles and served with some Uncle Ben’s 90-second rice, diced tomatoes and medium salsa.  Quite delicious and so filling!

10 Points Plus for the entire dinner.  Not bad at all!

Have you ever made quick & simple quesadillas?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Trader Joe’s World’s Puffiest Sour Cream & Onion Corn Puffs

While browsing Trader Joe’s a few weeks back I noticed these World’s Puffiest Sour Cream & Onion Corn Puffs in their snack section.  I picked them up because I absolutely LOVE sour cream and onion chips.  So I figured corn puffs? Why not!  Surprisingly (or rather not surprisingly since TJ’s sells pretty stand-up products) they were pretty good.  They reminded me of a cheese curl just minus the cheese.

Flavor wise they are a very mild sour cream and onion flavoring.  The texture of the corn puff is that of a cheese puff – puffy, provides a crunch, but are very soft when chewing.  The downside for me was they were completely addicting.  A serving size was 2 ½ cups, but I found I wanted to eat more than just 2 ½ cups when enjoying these.  Totally a “trigger food”.  I know Trader Joe’s also sells a cheddar version of the same puffs, which I’m sure are equally delicious.

Weight Watchers Points Plus wise – these were 4 points plus for a serving.

Have you tried the Trader Joe’s Sour Cream & Onion Corn Puffs?

Homemade English Muffin Pizzas!

I was in the mood for English Muffin pizza and I decided to make a few as a quick and super simple meal.  I used to make these ALL the time (I even make them on bagels) so I quite enjoy them as pizza is my favorite food.  My niece was over when I was making these and she saw the pepperoni and banana pepper rings on it and she told me “Auntie Shannon, you’re not a good cooker.  You’re a spicy cooker” (LOL!) keep in mind she’s 3 and doesn’t like pepperoni pizza because it’s “spicy.”

To make these I used store-brand light fork-split English muffins.  I split them in half and added 3 tablespoons of sauce on each pizza (the 2 halves - which I seasoned with garlic and Italian seasoning), I then topped with 1/3 cup fat free mozzarella cheese (which I distributed over the 4 pieces).  Each pizza was topped off with 1 slice of Hormel Turkey Pepperoni and a few banana pepper rings.  I baked them in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes and ate when done.  Soo yummy!

Point Plus wise this meal was 7 Points Plus.

Have you ever made English muffin pizzas?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Dannon Light & Fit Greek Yogurt - Pineapple

I was VERY excited when I spotted this new Dannon Light & Fit Pineapple Greek Yogurt at Wal-mart last week!  Pineapple Greek Yogurt is one of my favorites but because I’m not the biggest fan of Chobani I haven’t been purchasing it – I’ve been settling for Black Cherry which I absolutely love.  The Dannon is 80 calories and packed with flavor.  The consistency is not as thick as Chobani’s (for comparative reasons) but isn’t watered down either – and of course, it is quite delicious.  It’s sweet, but not overly sweet and it’s got a great pineapple flavor.  I’m down to my last container (which I am bringing to work in the morning) and I’m almost a little sad this is the last one.  None of my local grocery stores carry it yet – so I may have to make another trip to Wal-mart in my near future!

Points Plus wise – these babies are 2 Points Plus values!

Have you tried any of the Dannon Light & Fit Greek yogurts?