Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Trader Joe's Very Green 100% Juice Smoothie

Since I've introduced myself to green juice a while ago and since  hadn't had any in a while I decided to have pick up a bottle. With that the Trader Joe's Very Green 100% Juice Smoothie leaped into my shopping cart. Admittedly, I had been looking at it for months and always passed on it.
One day my stomach wasn't feeling the most fabulous so I decided to pick up a bottle of green juice to have. I've heard from numerous people that some green juice when you're feeling under the weather or just not at your best can help perk you up. So, I gave into the theory.
The juice itself is more liquidy than thick (along the lines of Odwalla juice). It is sweet, which can be a little overwhelming on the taste buds (partly because it contains fruit juices in it and I am not a juice drinker) - so I find I have to drink it very slowly. Although I do admit I'd prefer this over some of the more bland, straight green juice/no fruit green juices. Regardless, it is refreshing and tasty so it's a nice drink to pick up to have once in a while - particularly for convenience.

An 8 ounce serving is 130 calories or 3 points plus values - or if you want to have the whole bottle it's 260 calories or 7 points plus values.

Trader Joe's Coconut Creamer

I'm a coffee lover ... but I don't like having my coffee filled with unnecessary calories. Years ago I cut back from being an extra cream, extra-extra sugar kind of girl to stopping coffee all together. After some time kicking the caffeine habit I went back to having coffee, but this time with skim milk and Splenda. Even today, I'm a stickler and don't really like "wasting" points/calories on drinks. Occasionally I'll allow myself a 1-point splurge for a large ice coffee with skim milk.
But since I'm always on the hunt for some lower point options for milk/cream in my coffee I was pretty excited when I spotted this Trader Joe's Coconut Creamer on the shelf. I've tried almond milks in my coffee in the past and I've found the unsweetened variety just didn't give a presentable appearance to my coffee. It made it a muddy brown color and you could see the almond 'specks' floating around/settling to the bottom of the cup ... and it just grossed me out. So when I saw this I was all sorts of excited. Reason being because creamers are known to be thicker in consistency (which means I could use less and get a better suited color to my coffee).
The creamer is moderately thick in consistency, white in color and creamy. Since it is coconut creamer, it does have a very faint coconut flavor to it, but it's not something you'll truly notice in your cup of joe (well, unless you're using a lot of it). Overall I have found I truly enjoy this and will undoubtedly repurchase.

A 1 tbsp serving is 5 calories or 0 points plus. You can have up to 4 tbsp for 0 points plus values.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Haul & Review: Weight Watchers ActiveLink 2.0

When the new Weight Watchers ActiveLink 2.0 was launched I was eager to get my hands on the device. I had the original ActiveLink for a long while and while I enjoyed it, I was eager to see the difference, especially since the 2.0 is a souped up edition of the device. I had been contemplating getting a FitBit since those are now compatable to the Weight Watchers activity monitoring software.
What sold me immediately was that during it's initial launch previous ActiveLink subscribers could get $20 off the top, making the monitor roughly $40. The cool thing for new members, an ActiveLink is included with your membership for a very short period of time in December.
What really sold me was the devices capabilities. Not only is it waterproof (as the last ActiveLink was) but you could wear it in a multiple of new ways - one being on the wrist (using an included wrist strap) or attached to the body. There are interchangeable rings to make the front of the ActiveLink the color of your choice. Another huge plus is that the ActiveLink 2.0 has Bluetooth which makes for super simple syncing to your smartphone to see where you are at activity wise for the day.  The monitor itself has extra lights which light up for every 10% of activity. This is perfect, especially for those folks who are visual and like to see where they're at. It also has the ability to monitor your sleeping habits to see how much of a restful sleep the wearer is getting.
The greatest capability is the ability to sync the device with a smartphone. I love being able to get notifications of when I hit my baseline, or when I reached my goal and being able to see exactly how much I've moved that day. It's a motivator to do a little more, especially if you've only got so many more percentage to hit before getting a bigger and better number. I wear my ActiveLink to bed and in the morning I can tell my ActiveLink when exactly I went to sleep and when I woke up and it'll graph out and movements during sleep. You can then give your sleep pattern your own personal rating (smiley face, neutral face or a frown).
The only downside is the battery power isn't nearly as great as it was in the first ActiveLink. Once the 2.0 is fully charged, I can get roughly 3-4 days out of it before it's in the "danger zone" and needs to be re-charged. On the flip side ... since it has a USB port, you can easily charge the device in your car (if you have the proper adapter), using a wall charger, or as intended on your personal computer. The device charges up to 100% battery life pretty quickly.
Another noticeable difference between the original ActiveLink and ActiveLink 2.0 is the size. The original ActiveLink was pretty bulky and was noticeable under clothing (particularly if you wore it on your bra under your clothing). The 2.0 is smaller in size, while being noticeable under clothing it's not as noticeable as its predecessor.
The 2.0 does light up when you hit base lines/goals so you will occasionally see green flashing lights from where ever you decide to wear it. I don't find it's incredibly noticeable to folks we interact with ... but since I do wear my ActiveLink attached to my bra, I do notice the lights out of my peripheral vision and have a mini panic attack thinking it's a bug/etc.
Overall I quite enjoy my new ActiveLink 2.0 and love it a lot more then the original!

OatFit Cinnamon Roll Oatmeal

I picked up a box of OatFit Cinnamon Roll Oatmeal at Target to have as an "emergency" food in my desk. You know, something to have just in case a breakfast option wasn't to work out and it would deter me from eating junk or whatever I could get my hands on. I'm not much of an instant oatmeal fan these days ... but for a convenience, once in a while food, I figured why not?
The one thing I liked immediately off the bat was the packages are elongated and once you pour the oatmeal out into a bowl, there's a "fill" line on the bag to measure water/milk in. This is great because I don't always bring my measuring cups with me, unless I've got a preplanned meal that I've got to measure out of knowingly. Cooked the oatmeal pairs well with fresh fruit (berries/banana) and is a satisfying meal.
The oatmeal is alright ... it's your average instant oatmeal. The flavor is good - very cinnamon roll but oddly, I find the oatmeal, once cooked comes out whitish in color. It's satisfying, but if you're more of a steel cut/whole oats person the consistency will be off. It's more along the mushy side of things. I'm not the biggest fan of that but it's doable when needed. Consistency doesn't mean it's a bad ... it all just boils down to personal preference.

A package of 100 calories or 3 points plus values (or you can have 2 packets, for 200 calories or 5 points plus values).

Monday, December 22, 2014

Trader Joe's 'Spearean Risotto

Looking for a new side dish to jazz things up, I picked up a package of Trader Joe's 'Spearean Risotto one afternoon while picking up a few groceries. I've had risotto once, many moons ago, and since I love asparagus I figured it was going to be a unique and different side to have alongside dinner one night. That was, in fact a good thought.
The bag lists the dish as a "creamy risotto with a generous amount of savory and crisp cut asparagus spears." The dish is frozen and easily heated up in a pan over an open flame (or in the microwave if you're going for simple). The risotto and asparagus are frozen, while the creamy "sauce" is frozen in chunks which melts as the dish heats through - creating a creamy risotto dish. The asparagus isn't all tops as they appear on the bag ... it's more like stems and an occasional asparagus tip. Honestly, I like asparagus so it didn't bum me out that it wasn't all tops.
The risotto is softer in texture, the "sauce" is buttery and creamy, while the asparagus remains firm and not overcooked. Overall it was an enjoyable dish. Not overly rich in flavor but satisfying. If it were overly buttery my stomach would have probably put up the white flag and I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much as I did. But overall, it got two thumbs up from me and I will repurchase.
A serving is 1 cup, which is 170 calories or 5 points plus values.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Skinnytaste Turkey Pastelon (Sweet Plantain Lasagna)

I live in a predominantly hispanic area so I've grown up incorporating spanish dishes into my palette since I was a kid. Prior to joining Weight Watchers I've had my share of pastelon, although to save time we'd make Canoas - which are stuffed sweet plantains. The plantains were peeled, cut down the middle, lightly fried, then placed into a casserole dish, topped with a ground beef mixture, topped with cheese and baked off in the oven for the plantain to cook through. The "lazy mans lasagna" of pastelon.
As an avid fan of the Skinnytaste website/cookbook I've had the Skinnytaste Turkey Pastelon (Sweet Plantain Lasagna) dish pinned and printed for quite some time. My boyfriend at the time wasn't a fan of cheese, so avoiding having to make two dishes for dinner I opted to just not make it. That is until I stumbled upon the recipe again and decided I was going to prep it for dinner one night.
Prepping the dish was quite simple. Although I find after assembling began that I should have sliced my bananas thinner to make for a "lasagna" effect but since they weren't thin enough I only had enough bananas to cover 2 layers worth instead of 3. That fact aside it didn't cut back on the taste or flavor.
I have to say this dish is absolutely delicious! It's flavorful, packed with delicious flavors, topped with a wonderful cheese and egg mixture which truly does help hold the dish together. It's filling, packed with protein and is satisfying enough to have alongside a side salad for dinner.  I shared the dish with my parents and they both equally enjoyed it - so it was undoubtedly a crowd pleaser and something I will be making again when the craving strikes!
If you'd like to make the dish yourself, you can find the recipe on the Skinnytaste website: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2013/09/turkey-pastelon-sweet-plantain-lasagna.html.
A serving is 282 calories or 7 points plus values.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Trader Joe's OH Almond Kringle

After a trip to Trader Joe's one afternoon I was hoping to pick up another pumpkin caramel kringle but to my surprise they were all sold out. But they did have the Trader Joe's OH Almond Kringle available ... so I decided to pick it up to give it a try. I mean, after all, I do tend to enjoy almond desserts.
The kringle was shaped exactly as the pumpkin caramel, in an oval shape which had a thin layer of icing over the top of the kringle. The dessert was that classic, flaky crust and the inside was smeared with an almond flavoring. It wasn't truly along the lines of a filling, but it looked like almond paste may have been included with the flaky layers and layered together. It was along the lines of a dense, packed consistency which had a little bit of moisture to it.
Flavor wise I wasn't truly that impressed. The pumpkin caramel kringle was phenomenal and I found the almond kringle to be overly sweet and rather lackluster. It wasn't "wowing" and it wasn't utterly delicious. I found it to be too sweet to truly enjoy.
Like they say, you win some ... lose some ... and this was a loss.

A serving, 1/12th of the dessert, is 190 calories or 5 points plus values.

Trader Joe's Harvest Bagels

Considering I'm a self-described carbivore I tend to check out the bagel section at Trader Joe's ... specifically the new seasonal flavors. I was all excited to find the new Trader Joe's Harvest Bagels so I grabbed a bag to give them a try.
The bagels are your classic multigrain bagels which is kicked up a notch by incorporating both cranberries and seeds. The seeds give it a bit of a crunch and the cranberries offer a nice subtle sweetness. They toast up perfectly, are delicious with just a little butter on them or even as a side to a breakfast dish. Since I'm into a savory sandwich with bagels I really enjoy them with a little deli polish ham, sliced tomato and crushed hot peppers. The slight sweetness from the bagel balances perfectly against salty ham and spicy hot peppers.

The bagels crisp up and offer good crunch while also having that classic chewy bagel texture. I quite honestly really enjoy these bagels and have repurchased them already. The downside these are a limited edition seasonal item.

A bagel is 230 calories or 6 points plus values.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Trader Joe's Pumpkin O's

With the Fall season, Trader Joe's 'unleashes' their pumpkin flavored goodies Some of which are so delicious they should truly be incorporated into their everyday items. One of these products is the Trader Joe's Pumpkin O's. When I first picked up the box I wasn't sure if it was going to be true slam dunk pumpkin flavor ... but these are everything one wold imagine.

For comparison purposes I'll say they are a pumpkin version of Honey Nut Cheerios. The cereal itself has a classic wheat cereal flavor, but it's not overwhelming. The pumpkin flavor is at the forefront and it's clearly evident you're having a pumpkin cereal. It's not a dish that's so lightly flavored you have to "search" for the main flavor. The cereal also has a light sugar coating to it which gives it only a hint of sweetness.
Overall I find this to be one of the best pumpkin breakfast items I have tried. Even those who have tried some have all agreed that it's quite delicious (and even more delicious than one would assume). The only downside is ... it's seasonal and once it's gone, it's gone (until next season).

A 1 cup serving is 110 calories or 3 points plus values.

Trader Joe's Mashed Potatoes

Whenever I'm at Trader Joe's I always scope out the store - see what's new, what's unique or what seems interesting. I love mashed potatoes (or potatoes in general) so when I spotted a bag of frozen Trader Joe's Mashed Potatoes in the freezer section I was intrigued. There aren't very many instant potato brands that I enjoy (outside of Idahoan packages) but I was intrigued by this. Fresh mashed potatoes that are frozen, convenient AND portion sized?
I had the package in my freezer for some time, not quite sure what I was going to do with them. I pulled them out the other day for a side with dinner and I have to say ... these potatoes are pretty amazing.  They come frozen, shaped in little round "coin" sized balls. You can cook as little or as many as you choose depending on how much you want as a serving.
I placed all the potato balls in the bottom of a non-stick pan, added in the water as directed and let it come together over medium-high heat. I was quite pleased with the end result. Smooth, creamy, mashed potatoes that involved little effort. No potatoes to peel, chop and boil.
The bag states you can flavor them up with chicken broth, butter, or the simple water method (which is what I chose). I seasoned them with a little sea salt and black pepper and they were good to go. Delicious paired alongside some meatloaf and mixed veggies. They were so good I picked up another bag on my latest trip to Trader Joe's to have on hand for days where I feel like mashed potatoes.
A serving, 8 pieces (4 ounces) is 90 calories or 2 points plus values.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Starkist Tuna Salad - Albacore

After I tried the Starkist Tuna Salad and was told they had an Albacore version - I went on the hunt. I finally found the Starkist Tuna Salad - Albacore one day in Wal-Mart so I picked up 2 packs. If I make a tuna sandwich - it's always with albacore so I figured this would be a good convenience food to have on hand at my desk at work.
One afternoon I was in the need of a protein boost, so I opened a package and put it over a very small garden salad. The tuna salad I found to be rather plain with no flavor. The plus side was that it has mayonnaise in it and was a solid white tuna fish. This can be jazzed up with a little sprinkle of salt and pepper ... and if you enjoy a little pizzazz with your tuna, a little crushed hot peppers or even banana pepper rings. I can't say it's one of my favorites but it's good to have on hand as a purely convenience food.

A pouch is 100 calories or 2 points plus values.

Weight Watchers Bacon Meatloaf

I picked up the Weight Watchers Comfort Food Cookbook at my meeting with the intention on making a few recipes from it. With fall (and now winter-like weather) upon us comfort foods are where it's at. I have a fan favorite meatloaf that I always tend to make but seeing a Bacon Meatloaf I knew I had to give it a try.
So one evening I whipped up a meatloaf for dinner and I have to say it was delicious! My sister-in-law even said that it was one of the best meatloaves she has ever had (she may have even said it's better than the one her mother made). I personally found it to be one of the better meatloaves I have had in a while. It was juicy, flavorful and an overall crowd pleaser. It was so good I reinvented it into mini meatloaves which came out fabulously.

The recipe itself takes a small amount of prep work but everything comes together quickly and effortlessly - and before you know it, dinner is on the table.
Weight Watchers Bacon Meatloaf
Serves 6. 7 Points Plus Values/serving. 2 slices per serving. 257 calories.

* 1 tbsp canola oil
* 3/4 lb white mushrooms, finely chopped
* 1 onion, finely minced
* 1 1/2 lbs ground lean beef (&% fat or less)
* 1/2 cup plain dried whole wheat bread crumbs
* 1/4 cup ketchup
* 1 large egg, beaten
* 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
* 1 tsp salt
* 2 slices center cut bacon, cut lengthwise in half
1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Spray small roasting pan with nonstick spray
2. Heat oil in large heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onion, cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes.
3. Transfer mushroom mixture to large bowl; let cool slightly. Add beef, bread crumbs, ketchup, egg, Worcestershire sauce, and salt; mix until blended but not over-mixed.
4. Transfer meat loaf mixture to prepared pan; shape into a 4 x 8 inch loaf. Lay slices of bacon on top. Bake until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of load registers 160*F for well done, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into 12 slices.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Potluck Dish: Cranberry Chili Meatballs

Potlucks or family gatherings where you need a quick and easy "go to" side dish are some of my favorites. We had a potluck at work to celebrate Halloween and I wanted to bring something in that could be a protein for myself and my coworkers. Going back and fourth with what I wanted to bring I decided on meatballs in a crock pot. Avoiding the typical meatball and sauce route I opted to go with a cranberry sauce and chili sauce mixture.
The end result is a delicious sweet, spicy, tangy sauce that coats the meatballs. The longer this simmers in the crock pot, the better it tastes. If it is simmering for a while, I do add a little bit of water to avoid the sauce from burning.
The end result is a crowd pleaser, tasty and a moderately "point friendly" dish. The below makes one bag of meatballs, but if you want to make two - just use double the ingredients (double cranberry, chili sauce, meatballs and water).
1 bag frozen turkey meatballs
1 can whole cranberry sauce
1 bottle chili sauce
1/4 cup water
Add all ingredients to a crock pot, turn on low and allow to heat for 2 1/2+ hours (or as long as you want - the longer it cooks the better).

Corn Chowder

Living in New England chowders are "the thing" but considering I'm not the biggest fan of seafood ... my love of chowders are very limited. Limited as in ... corn chowder is where it's at. Growing up my mother would make corn chowder every once in a while. My mom would make two renditions - one with cream or one with canned evaporated milk. Both are delicious - but the evaporated milk is definitely lighter.
I simmer my chowder with the corn cobs in it because it helps develop the corn flavor. The flavoring/juices are within the cob and boiling it it helps infuse that flavor ... otherwise one might end up with a slightly bland dish. If you aren't able to find corn on the cob, you can always skip and use frozen sweet corn.
The consistency of this is slightly thicker than that of a soup, but it's certainly not as thick as a stew. You could add a little cornstarch and water mixture to the end result if you're looking for it to be thicker.
Serves 8. 4 Points Plus Values. 1 Cup serving size.
* 1 cup yellow bell pepper, diced
* 1 cup onion, chopped
* 1 tbsp margarine
* 4 medium corn on the cob, corn cut off cobs (make sure you keep cobs they go in the soup)
* 2 cups frozen hash brown potatoes
* 1 tsp olive oil
* 1 cup skim milk
* 3 cups water
* 12 oz can fat free evaporated milk
* 2 tbsp flour
* Salt, to taste
* Black pepper, to taste (you can use white pepper if you wish but I prefer black)
In a large soup pot over medium heat, add in olive oil and saute bell pepper and onion. Cook until onion is translucent and bell pepper has softened.
Add margarine to pan, sprinkle cooked vegetables with flour, stir gingerly until flour is cooked out and no longer visible.

Season with salt and pepper then add in corn kernels, hash brown potatoes, corn cobs and allow mixture to cook together gently for 2-3 minutes. Add in water, skim milk and evaporated milk - cover pot with a lid and allow the chowder to come to a slow boil.
Adjust seasonings and allow chowder to simmer for roughly 40 minutes.

Snikiddy Baked Mac 'n Cheese Puffs

I have a weakness for cheese puffs, so when I spotted these Snikiddy Baked Mac 'n Cheese Puffs at the grocery store, I had to give them a try. I mean, mac 'n cheese transformed into a cheese puff? C’mon! Plus for the serving size (& points plus value) alone I was sold.

The puffs are your average cheese puffs. For the most part they’re smaller in size compared to your average cheese puff on the market. These are white in color but they do have just a slight hue of orange to them. In all honestly, their shape, size and color remind me of packing peanuts. Flavor wise they reminded me of Jax cheese curls, except not as cheesy and finger staining messy. I wouldn’t say they scream mac n cheese but the cheese curls do have that classic cheddar cheese flavor to them ... but ideally the more you eat the more they taste like regular cheese puffs.

They're good and a serving is plentiful. Definitely something I would repurchase in the future (and already have).

A serving is 1 oz (roughly 60 puffs) is 130 calories or 3 points plus values.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Emily Bites Bubble Up Pizza Casserole

I have seen some of the recipes from the Emily Bites website all over Instagram. A few of them really peaked my interest - enough that I pinned them on Pinterest, picked up a few ingredients to have on hand and dropped them into my meal plans for the week. One of those was the Emily Bites Bubble Up Pizza Casserole.
Admitedly the first time I tried to make this recipe I was looking at the ingredients on pinterest (which weren't complete). I opted to use bisquik as a crust and it was a total fail. The next time I made it, I got the recipe off the website and it came out to be amazingly delicious. The dish is comforting, a dead ringer for pizza and a perfect meal to have alongside salad.
What I liked the most is that the recipe can be adapted to use any ingredients you enjoy on pizza. Add more vegetables, substitute veggies, add diced tomatoes, etc. It's versatile, just as your average pizza pie is.
I did mix up my pizza a little bit - opting to skip the olives (because I just couldn't find the can I thought I had), added peppers and onions.
The serving was generous, satisfying and a dish I'll undoubtedly make again. Plus it's only 319 calories or 8 points plus values.

Valrhona LE Lait 29% Cacao Milk Chocolate

Let me take a moment to introduce you to a little gem I found at Trader Joe's one afternoon ... and have since repurchased a handful of times. One day at checkout I noticed some chocolate bars and curiosity got the best of me so I picked one up. Checking out the nutrition facts and being completely wowed, I tossed one in my basket and decided I'd give it a try.
Upon giving it a try .. that's when the Valrhona LE Lait 29% Cacao Milk Chocolate became my new favorite candy bar. The chocolate is considered to be gourmet chocolate ... which in my opinion is exactly that. It's smooth, it's creamy, it melts in your mouth ... and it has that rich chocolate flavor that I tend to only find in European chocolates. A bar houses 7 small squares which when eaten slowly is like a delicacy. A delicacy that also feels like it's a lot more loaded with calories/points plus values that it is. It makes for enjoying chocolate to be more of an enjoyable experience over a guilty pleasure.
The bar also comes in a dark chocolate variety but since I'm not the biggest dark chocolate fan I stuck with the milk. I do have a bar of dark to try one day ... but so far, the milk chocolate is phenomenal.  Plus for 99 cents per bar, you're getting quite a fabulous bar of chocolate for under a dollar.
A bar (which is also a serving) is 150 calories or 4 points plus values.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Chocolate Covered Swedish Fish

I took a trip to Maine this past weekend and since I was with my niece we popped into one of the candy stores in Kittery, Yummies. It's floor to ceiling candy and all kinds - old school, new school and unique finds that one may have never known existed.
One of those things I never knew existed were Chocolate Covered Swedish Fish. Now, I LOVE swedish fish ... there's something about that chewy, cherry flavored fish that I've always enjoyed. They're also available in lemon and lime flavor. But when I saw them covered in chocolate I had my doubts. I couldn't quite wrap my brain around how it would taste. But deciding to give it a shot ... I picked it up.
These particular ones are the cherry flavored fish which are coated in a smooth layer of milk chocolate. The cherry flavor mixed with the chocolate tastes along the lines of a chocolate covered cherry. The flavors mixed together are out of this world deliciousness. For something that I thought would be gross to try turned out to be a fabulous treat. So fabulous in fact this is going to be one of the treats I make for Christmas to hand out to friends and family!
For those Weight Watchers folks - I don't know the points on these, but once I do make them I'll figure out points/servings/etc.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Glenny's 100 Calorie Chocolate Chip Brownie

One morning the gentleman who replenishes the vending machine at work came in and left some "healthy treats" on the table for my coworkers and I to sample. There weren't very many items but the one that caught my eye was the Glenny's 100 Calorie Chocolate Chip Brownie. I took a quick glance at the nutrition facts and brought the package back to my desk to tuck away in my desk.
After needing an afternoon pick-me-up I decided to open the brownie to have a snack. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised ... the brownie was pretty big, far larger than a serving if I were to make boxed brownies. The brownies texture is a mix between cake and fudgy and had chocolate chips running throughout the dessert. For only 100 calories it was perfection - chocolatey, tasty and pretty satisfying.
For being pretty packed with fiber (7g) and protein (4g) they definitely do not have that fiber taste that can be found in some Fiber One products. These aren't hard on the stomach, haven't made me feel bloated or uncomfortable. They're delicious straight out of the package, while I also find them to be a perfect addition to a dessert to make it feel a little "sinful". Brownie sundae anyone?!
A package is a serving, which is 100 calories or 2 points plus values.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Wendy's Asian Cashew Chicken Salad

While out running errands, it was well past lunch time and I needed something in my belly. Not really sure what I wanted, I decided to head to Wendy's for lunch since I knew off the top of my head they had some "point friendly" items. Plus out of all the fast food burger joints they are one of my favorite.
Of course when I got there I wasn't sure what I wanted, so I whipped out my phone and looked up Wendy's foods on my Weight Watchers app. I decided to get one of their salads to give it a try. I opted for the half salad (it also comes in a full size) and ordered the Asian Cashew Chicken Salad.
According to the website the dish is: "Topped with fire-roasted edamame, spicy roasted cashews, warm, grilled chicken and Marzetti Simply Dressed Light Spicy Asian Chili Vinaigrette for a salad that's anything but bland."
A full size salad is 380 calories or 10 points plus values (this includes the cashews, dressing, chicken, and bed of salad), or a half size (pictured above) is 240 calories and 6 points plus values (this includes the cashews, dressing, chicken, and bed of salad).
If you order the salad and skip on the cashews and dressing it brings the half size salad down to 3 points plus values. If you add the cashews back on, skipping the dressing, it'll add on 2 points plus values making it 5 points plus values.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pie Mochi Ice Cream

Admittedly, when I first saw the Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pie Mochi Ice Cream it was intriguing (because I'm a sucker for pumpkin anything) but also slightly daunting. I've tried mochi before and with texture issues I didn't enjoy the strawberry flavor. Figuring I'd give it a shot after hearing how good they were, I popped a box in my shopping cart and went home with them.
The dessert is shaped like a round ball, which has a smooth, dry -- almost play-doh feel to it. It's dusted with what looks like flour. The mochi shell is chewy in texture, slightly gummy and doesn't have much of a flavor to it. It's rather on the plain side and seems to be odd or foreign even. The ice cream inside the mochi is where it's at. It's a smooth, creamy, pumpkin pie ice cream which tastes exactly like pumpkin pie. It really packs a punch and left the pumpkin lover within satisfied. Together it's a unique and pretty delicious treat.
1 mochi is a serving, which is 100 calories or 3 points plus values.

Bolthouse Farms Cilantro Avocado Yogurt Dressing

I've been getting bored of my plain ole regular salads to the point that I would take a few bites and would end up throwing the rest away ... or not even touching it.That's in part to the fact that I've allowed myself to get bored. I make the same "type" of salad and relay on 2 salad dressings to kick it up a notch ... but in reality, it's not enough anymore.
While at Walmart, picking up a few items to jazz up my week I picked up a bottle of the Bolthouse Farms Cilantro Avocado Yogurt Dressing. I'm not the biggest fan of cilantro, but I figured it would be a different flavor and something that would go good with, say, a taco salad. With that in mind, I whipped up a batch of taco meat for lunches for the week and have been using the dressing alongside it and I have to say, it's pretty delicious.
The dressing is smooth and creamy and 2 tablespoons, when mixed into greens really does go along way. It's flavorful, without being overly bold. The cilantro flavoring is very mild which I think is in part of the added avocado. It's along the lines of a ranch dressing, but it doesn't have that zip that comes with ranch. It's got a pretty good flavor and blends well with really whatever you decide to add to a salad. 
A serving is 2 tablespoons which is 40 calories or 1 points plus values.

Dinner: Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla

I purchased a quesadilla maker after wanting one for a very, very long time. I love Mexican dishes but don't ever really go out to restaurants to order them. So to break in my quesadilla maker, I decided to make chicken and cheese quesadillas for dinner one day. The idea turned out to be a spectacular and very filling dinner.
I had made shredded chicken in the crock pot (4 oz) and mixed it with a little bit of medium chunky salsa. I layered it in between 2 Joseph's wheat flax tortillas and added 1 ounce of shredded Mexican cheese to it. Popped it onto the quesadilla maker until the tortilla was crunchy and the chicken and cheese melted together.
I served it up, cutting it into 6 pieces and served it with 1/2 cup Spanish rice and a side salad topped with fat free poppy seed dressing. Overall it was a delicious dinner and a crowd pleaser. All this food was only 10 points plus values!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter Ice Cream

Trader Joe's Cookie Butter is one of those magnificent little jars of wonder. So when I saw that they had transformed their cookie butter into ice cream, I was all for it. I was especially all for it after trying a sample at the store one afternoon. That's when the container of Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter Ice Cream jumped into my grocery cart and made a temporary home in my freezer.

The dessert is your classic vanilla ice cream that has swirls, chunks and bits of cookie butter running throughout it. Cookie butter on its own is rather sweet ... so when mixed with sweet vanilla ice cream it becomes a rich and decadent dessert. It's certainly something you can enjoy in small doses without feeling sick from the sugar overload. The ice cream itself is smooth and creamy and the cookie butter adds a little bit of gritty texture to it.
It's the real deal when it comes to ice cream and I find it's something one can enjoy from time to time. I find the serving is more than enough because it can be very rich.
A 1/2 cup serving is 220 calories or 6 points plus values.

Rice Krispies Treats Blasted S'mores

I remember growing up as a kid and loving whenever my mom made my brother and I homemade rice krispy treats. There's something about plain ole rice krispies mixed with marshmallow goodness. As I've aged I haven't made rice krispy treats in a very long time .. so when I spotted these Rice Krispies Treats Blasted S'mores I figured they'd be a great treat to have once in a while.
Since I do enjoy my occasional sweets at times I was intrigued by the S'mores flavor. When I opened the packaged, I was surprised to see bits of graham cracker and chocolate bits scattered amongst the top of the treat. The rice krispies treat was the classic crispy cereal mixed with in a gooey marshmallow making the treat sweet, chewy and crispy.
They're a perfect little treat to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Each bar is 90 calories or 2 points plus values.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Haul: Empower Skipfit Cardio Skipper

Growing up I had a Skip-It which was a hard plastic "ball" that was attached to a plastic type rope that had a plastic ring you'd slip over your foot. The goal was to skip along, continuing to move the ball around your ankle, while "skipping/jumping" over the ball as many times as you could. To keep score, the ball had a little counter that would count (and eventually reset) your number of skips. It was a great workout for kids and one of my favorite items to play with when outside.  Needless to say, while I was at Kohl's I found this Empower Skipfit Cardio Skipper on the fitness display (near the shoe section) and I was so intrigued I snatched one off the shelf.
Admittedly, when I checked the price and it came up to be $19.99 I wanted to put it back. Then I googled it and couldn't find it offered anywhere online (particularly Amazon) so I decided just to pick it up and put it away for next spring/summer as an outdoor activity I can do at home.
This version is a plastic/nylon type ball that's attached to a fabric rope that has a fabric loop that would go around your ankle. Sure, the weather is less than stellar these days (cold/rainy) and the winter is on its way .. but it'll be a nice workout to bust out when the weather starts to cooperate.

Trader Joe's Kalamata Olive Hummus

I'm a huge fan of hummus, but it wasn't until 6 or so years ago that I started trying flavored hummus' instead of the traditional kind. Since shopping at Trader Joe's I find their flavored hummus' are a section of the store I always hope to see expand. Time and time again I've seen the Trader Joe's Kalamata Olive Hummus but I had refrained from purchasing it out of plain hesitance.
I can't really say what I was hesitant ... I love hummus and enjoy kalamata olives but I think it was the idea of putting the two together that was concerning? Since I was on the hunt for new flavors to change things up, I picked up a container. I brought it ti work to layer on my wrap for a sandwich and I'm glad I did.
The hummus itself is utterly delicious. It's your classic creamy hummus that has bits and pieces of kalamata olives running throughout it here or there. The olives giving off only a subtle amount of saltiness. The creaminess from the hummus itself not allowing the salty olive to overpower it. I found it to be a perfect addition to a sandwich, or even a creamy complimentary side to a salad. Nonetheless this has turned out to be one of my favorite Trader Joe's brand hummus.

A serving, 2 tbsp is 60 calories or 1 points plus values.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Lunch @ Pizzeria Regina's

I had an appointment around Boston and since I got there a little early, I decided to stop for lunch since I knew it would be a while before I was able to eat. I wasn't really sure of where any restaurants might be, but on the way over an overpass I could see a standing Pizzeria Regina's restaurant ... so I pulled into the parking lot and headed inside.
Glancing over the menu nothing really called out to me. I knew since I was in a pizza shop (one of the best in Boston if I might say so myself) I knew I wanted a slice of pizza. But the only downside was ... I could not find slices mentioned anywhere on the dine-in menu. When the waitress came over to take drink orders, I asked if I could order a slice of pizza and low-and-behold I could! Score!
I knew having a single slice of pizza wouldn't satisfy me until dinner time, I opted to order a entree side salad to share with my mother who came along with me to my appointment. The house salad sounded good ... but what was brought to the table looked like a work of art. All the vegetables were cut up perfectly and a fork dipped in salad dressing was all I needed because the toppings were so flavorful.  The house salad came with mixed greens topped with cherry tomatoes, carrot slivers, red onion rings, pepperoncini peppers, black olives, marinated chick peas, baby spinach and croutons (which I asked to be served on the side).
Salad with a slice of cheese pizza was the perfect lunch - which was satisfying and filling.

Weight Watchers Friendly Peach Cobbler

I was going to a friends Halloween party one afternoon. Since I don't like going to parties empty handed I decided I was going to make a dessert. Going back and fourth with my options I wasn't feeling that inspired to make any particular dish. Knowing I had to make something or buy something I headed to the grocery store. After a back and fourth battle in the baking aisle ... I decided to make a friendly version of peach cobbler. I picked up a few of the essential ingredients: yellow cake mix and canned peaches.
It's essentially a dump cake, similar to the berry dump cake, etc. It's very easy to put together, except when you're waiting (sometimes impatiently) for it to bake it does take some time.  The end result is well worth it. The cake mix makes a bit of a crust over the peaches which is crisp and chewy and the peaches and cake mix make a bit of a thickened "sauce". It's perfect served by itself, topped with a dollop of whipped cream or even a scoop of ice cream.
Serves 12 - 4 Points Plus Values.
* 1 box, Betty Crocker, Yellow Cake Mix
* 32 ounce canned peaches (in water/light syrup)
* 12 ounce can Diet Sprite
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a cake pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Drain juice out from peaches - make sure to reserve juice.
Place peaches into the bottom of pan - top with dry cake mix. Pour can of diet sprite over cake mix and set the pan in the oven. Allow to bake for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle 1/3 of the juice over the top of the cake mix.
Place pan back into the oven and bake for another 30 minutes.

Yoplait Greek Pumpkin Cheesecake Greek Yogurt

There aren't many occasions where I eat a yogurt that isn't light ... that is I tend to make exceptions when it comes to banana flavored yogurts or pumpkin flavored yogurts. I'd been told the Yoplait Greek 2% Pumpkin Cheesecake Yogurt was delicious ... so when I spotted it on shelves, I picked up a cup to give it a whirl.
I'm a self proclaimed pumpkin addict and I have been hoping to find a Greek pumpkin flavored yogurt (outside of the one available at Trader Joe's). I was particularly hoping for a light Greek yogurt [maybe next year?!] but Greek pumpkin yogurt will do the trick.
The yogurt is undoubtedly pumpkin. It's got a very smooth and creamy nature to it, similar to that of cheesecake. There's some nutmeg, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice lingering in there which make it quite yummy. It's not as zippy/tart as some Greek yogurts and has some natural sweetness to it which cuts back on the general tartness of the yogurt. Overall, it was quite good ... definitely something one could enjoy here and there when on the hunt for a pumpkin greek yogurt.
Each container is 150 calories or 4 points plus values.

Conquering a new Exercise: Spinning

With the change of the seasons comes a new class schedule at my gym. Typically with each change to the schedule it's an addition of a new class - usually a some version of a cardio class or just a different instructor teaching one of the classes already offered. That is until the new schedule rolled around for this fall introducing Spin Classes!
Now I have never taken a spin class in my life before this experience. I have seen people taking spin on videos and I've seen photos/Instagram postings of people taking spin class. I've always heard how great of a workout it was, yada yada ... but in the back of my mind I always had a small inkling of "well, that's got to be slightly boring." Why would I think that initially? Well, my gym has stationary bikes in the gym out in the workout area and I've tried to workout on them and it's just SO BORING to me. Like, why do I want to peddle and stare at this carpeted wall in front of me?
Since spin is held in the aerobics room I signed up (my gym was hosting a full day of introductory classes) and made my way to the gym for a 7:15 class. I had no excuses, no reservations and I went in with an open mind. After my instructor set us all up so we'd workout properly without hurting ourselves .. I found I actually LOVE the workout!
The instructor got us (or me?) pumped and motivated to keep going. There were three different "speeds" (low, medium, high) and we could essentially go at our own pace. There's no competition, there's no right or wrong way (other than safe) and the one thing I loved was that it was very low impact and it was killer, killer cardio. I have arthritis in one of my knees pretty bad (I wear a knee brace to most classes) and it did not hurt my knee whatsoever. All I know is after 35 minutes I was sweating like I did 2 hours of high intensity zumba.  The only downside is the seat is VERY uncomfortable and will leave you feeling sore for a few days prior ... but other than that, I'm a spin-lover and plan on frequenting the Tuesday night class from here on out.
That was my "do something out of the box"  ... and I found something I actually quite enjoy and will continue to do! Now the only "hard part" about it is hoping to get a coin to get into the class because there's only so many bikes!

Trader Joe's Green Tea Inflused Mints

The past few months I have been finding I'm getting into green tea. For a long time I wasn't a fan because I thought it tasted blah - but with all the benefits that come from it, I decided to give it a shot ... and found I truly do enjoy it. Searching for the Trader Joe's Green Tea Infused Mints over the course of a few shopping trips I was finally able to get my hands on a tin.
I like having mints on me because there are times where after a meal you feel you just need something. While they're also good if one were to get cotton mouthed it'd help relieve the situation.  I asked the cashier if he had tried the mints and was advised that he had and said they're "they're a mild green tea flavor."
After trying them ... I have to say I agree. The green tea flavor is there, but there's also a mint flavor along with it that's very mild and pleasant. It's not nearly as bold as say, an Altoid. It's got a minimal amount of sweetness, mintiness and green tea flavor for it to be quite enjoyable.  They're also cutely shaped (like a leaf) - not your standard round mint.
A serving is 3 mints, which are 10 calories or 0 points plus values.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Dannon Light & Fit Greek Caramel Apple Pie

I've mentioned it time and time before ... Greek yogurt is my favorite yogurt and typically the only "type" of yogurt I purchase. I've heard great things about the Dannon Light & Fit Greek Caramel Apple Pie yogurt so when I finally spotted it on shelves at Wal-Mart I picked a couple up.
Needless to say I'm glad I picked up a couple because this yogurt is pretty amazing. It's delicious - filled with bits of apples. The apple flavor is right up there with the caramel being in the background. The caramel isn't blatantly artificial or offensive. The two flavors blend together effortlessly leaving a delicious flavored breakfast, snack or dessert. I've enjoyed it on its own while also with some cooked cinnamon apples. Out of the two limited edition caramel apple flavored greek yogurts out on the market right now ... this one undoubtedly takes the cake.
A serving is 80 calories or 2 points plus values.

Trader Joe's OH Pumpkin Caramel Kringle

The last few times I've gone to Trader Joe's I've noticed the new dessert they had on their dessert table. At first, I didn't quite know what it was ... and since it's in a wax paper bag I couldn't see it ... so I wasn't quite tempted (that is aside from it listing "Pumpkin Caramel" on the label (which made me want it site unseen). Then one afternoon on a trip to Trader Joe's the OH Pumpkin Caramel Kringle was the sample of the day. And after that sample ... I was hooked and picked up 2 frozen Kringle's to take home (I purchased 2 because the crew member advised they'd be good until Thanksgiving with it being frozen). Having dinner guests over, I left one out overnight to defrost and cut it up into serving sizes prior to dinner.
The dessert is sold as a round ring, which is made of a flaky pastry crust which has a caramel "frosting" along the top of it with a sprinkle of chopped pecans throughout. It's a danish dessert - very similar to a danish but the filling is completely encased in the flaky pastry dough. It's filled with a thin layer of pumpkin which tastes like the inside of pumpkin pie. The frosting on the top of it gives it added sweetness and the pecans give it that subtle crunch that's needed to balance it all out. The texture of the kringle is soft but not so soft it'll fall apart.
Overall it's quite delicious ... sweet, but not sickeningly so. It's perfect with a cup of coffee, as an after dinner dessert ... or if you're like me, your dessert before dinner. It's satisfying enough that a serving size is more than enough.
A serving, 1/12th of the kringle is 190 calories or 5 points plus values.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Macarons

I remember seeing macarons talked about all over the place. Unfortunately they're not an item that is readily available in my area. That's where Trader Joe's steps into play because it has been the only store that I have been able to find macarons. Granted, they're not freshly made daily at a bakery ... but it's the closest to the real deal I'm going to get. I've tried the different varieties of macarons at Trader Joe's ... so needless to say when I spotted the Trader Joe's Pumpkin Macarons I was on board before I could bat a lash.
Macarons are a delicious french dessert made from meringue confection which are filled with a delicious, complimentary spread. They resemble a cookie, but are soft, slightly crisp (along the 'crust') and just all around perfection. These pumpkin macarons have that slightly crisp edge to them as all macarons tend to have ... but I found the filling in these to be a lot softer and airier than the filling in other cookies. The pumpkin filling has the consistency of say a whipped pumpkin dip - where it's pumpkin flavored, but light and airy in texture. It's not bad, but it's just different from the 'norm' so to speak.
I found the cookies to be quite delicious. Airy, soft, delicious and pumpkin packed. They're definitely not for the anti-pumpkin club but if you enjoy a good different pumpkin dessert .. these pumpkin macarons are for you. Plus there's no long baking process involved ... all you have to do is allow the cookies to defrost and whatever you don't eat goes right into the refrigerator.
A serving is 2 cookies which are 90 calories or 2 points plus values.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Tahitian Vanilla Caramels

Whenever I'm in a chocolate or candy mood ... I find myself gravitating towards with Trader Joe's has to offer. There's something about the quality of the confection that comes out of the store that leaves my taste buds happy. Since I tend to enjoy caramels I was intrigued when I spotted a bag of Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Tahitian Vanilla Caramels. So of course they had to come home with me.
The bag describes them as "Creamy vanilla caramels covered with premium dark chocolate". Admittedly, I'm not a huge dark chocolate fan ... but what I was buying these for was the caramel, not the chocolate. I cracked open the bag to share with my mother and ate a few and was not impressed. Truthfully, I did not like them. They were what I would call ... power house vanilla (and I like vanilla) while also maintaining a certain level of saltiness. The caramel was very, very soft and not really chewy. It was coated in a semi-thick coating of dark chocolate. My mother enjoyed them, so I happened to give her the whole bag because I had my fair share after a few pieces.
A bag is a serving, which is 270 calories or 7 points plus values.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Aria Woman's Protein in Vanilla

I've been on a smoothie kick lately so I decided to give another protein powder I had been waiting to try a shot. Since I ran out of my vegetable based protein powder - I decided to give the Aria Woman's Protein - Vanilla a try.
I do want to note, this particular protein powder does have whey in it - so if you're sensitive to whey this would not work for you.
The directions state to add 2 level scoops to 1 cup of water or skim milk. I added the powder to water and tried it ... and it tasted chalky, very bland and just not something I'd throw in a shaker and chug down. There wasn't an immediate vanilla flavor ... more of a plain mildly chalky beverage. I dumped the protein powder mixture over some ice, frozen strawberries, a banana and a few pieces of frozen mango along with a green yogurt and blended it up. The first time I made it, I eliminated the mango and it was just not the right flavor -- I find the mango added a bit of sweetness that it needed otherwise it was a bland drink.
I don't mind whey proteins, but I do find they make my tongue feel dry. The Aria powder (along with a Greek yogurt) was very filling and kept me satisfied up until lunch time - so I can't complain. All I can say is it needs to be jazzed up by some fresh/frozen fruits in order for it to be an intriguing protein smoothie.
A serving, 2 level scoops, is 90 calories or 2 points plus values.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tumaro's New York Deli-Style Wraps - Everything Low Carb Wrap

I've heard and seen so much about the Tumaro's New York Deli-Style Wraps that I searched high and low for them. I wasn't able to find them for weeks ... until I randomly nearly walked into a display of them at my local Hannaford's grocery store. Since everything bagels are my favorite I opted to get the Tumaro's Everything Low Carb Wraps.
Even through the plastic you could smell the wraps. If you're familiar with everything bagels then you can imagine what they smelled like ... onion, garlic and assorted spices. I will say, they are a bit pricey but overall not too bad. At my local store they were $3.59 a pack and each pack contains 4 wraps.
The wraps are a decent size. They have the texture of a flour tortilla and hold up pretty well when being stuffed with sandwich fillers. The flavor isn't overwhelming and complimented my deli chicken sandwich fabulously. I've had them both straight out of the bag, while I've also had them grilled. Grilled was undoubtedly my favorite way to have these because the wrap grilled up beautifully leaving a nice, crunchy, yet chewy texture. They're great because the flavor definitely jazzes up any plain ole sandwich one would have for lunch or dinner.
Each wrap is 80 calories or 2 points plus values.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Trader Joe's Chile Relleno

I enjoy Mexican food ... but I don't go out for Mexican food much at all. While shopping at Trader Joe's I typically glance over the packaged Mexican/Spanish inspired foods. One dish that I've looked at numerous times and finally decided to pick up was the Trader Joe's Chile Relleno.
The picture on the box looks very appetizing. I don't typically eat many frozen dinners just due to the sodium content (and the fact I tend to prefer to cook meals ... but convenience is nice on occasion). Since I'm the only person in my household that truly enjoys chile relleno it was just easier to have a frozen version of it.
Taking the container out of the box, I poked some holes into the plastic and popped it into the microwave for 5 minutes ... and just like that dinner was done. Allowing the dish to cool I then sat down to enjoy.
Flavor wise it was delicious- cheesy, slightly spicy and probably the closest to Mexican food I'd get before going to a restaurant. The only downside was the poblano pepper was SO tough. And by so tough I mean I had to break out a steak knife to cut it up! Some parts of the pepper weren't bad, but others were sooo difficult to chew I had to toss some in the garbage. Not sure if that's how most of these frozen poblano peppers tend to be .. or if I just got a dud ... but that fact alone was disappointing. If the pepper was "on point" I would strongly recommend the dish. I mean it is vegetarian and has a whopping 22 grams of protein in it.  Just drink a bunch of water afterwards to help flush some of the added sodium out of you.
The dish is 350 calories or 9 points plus.

Haul: Weight Watchers All-American Comfort Cookbook

I had been eying this cookbook at my local Weight Watchers meeting for weeks. I know cookbooks tend to go on sale so I waited ... and waited .... and finally decided to not wait any longer and picked up the Weight Watchers All-American Comfort Cookbook. I purchased ... and the next week it went on sale (HA!).
My leader had been raving about some of the recipes in the cookbook and with fall upon us and comfort food being the dishes most people gravitate towards I figured why not? After skimming through the cookbook I decided to give at least one of the recipes a shot right away. I found a meatloaf recipe that I decided to give a shot and it's truly one of the most delicious meatloaves I have had. With comfort foods being the dishes most people want in the fall/winter time ... I see myself reaching for this more so when I'm out of ideas and want something different and  "easy" (meaning I don't have to calculate points for it and figure out serving sizes).
Just skimming some of the other recipes I'm looking forward to giving them a shot. I'm sure this will become one of my "go to" cookbooks when I'm feeling a little stumped in the cooking department.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fiber One Oatmeal Raisin Soft Baked Cookies

When I heard that Fiber One had come out with cookies I was on the hunt. I love cookies but I especially love cookies (or snacks in general) that come in prepackaged portioned containers. I picked up the chocolate chip and loved it ... so I knew of course I had to try out the Fiber One Oatmeal Raisin Soft Baked Cookies because sometimes a soft baked oatmeal cookie is all one needs as a snack.
The cookies themselves are pretty decent in size. They're larger than your average packaged cookie and come in its own sealed wrapping to keep the cookie as fresh as possible. The oatmeal cookie is soft, chewy and filled with bits of oatmeal and raisins.
With some of the fiber filled products, it can have that "fiber taste" but these certainly don't have that result on my taste buds. I don't notice any extra fiber flavor and they don't give me a belly ache. I really enjoy them and I have them from time to time when I'm in the mood for a cookie but I don't want to open an entire package of cookies.
A serving size is 1 cookie, which is 120 calories or 3 points plus values.

Lightened Up: Cuban Sandwich

I've grown to really enjoy Cuban Sandwiches. In my area there's a diner that makes one of THE best Cuban Sandwiches around. It's made on a special cut of bread they have delivered to the diner ... while it's also loaded with cheese, butter and packed with delicious cuts of meat that it can be a very, very heavy meal. Never mind the fact it's served alongside a plate of french fries.
If you've never had a cuban sandwich it's a sandwich that's made of ham, roasted pork, swiss cheese, mustard, sliced pickle and sometimes salami. In my area, the salami is nixed and is instead replaced with sliced turkey. The sandwich is then grilled to a crispy perfection and the sandwich is plain magical.
In order to skip on the bulky bread, I tend to try to lighten it up. This time I used a lavash bread, which I grilled up with some sliced deli ham, deli pork and deli turkey alongside a slice of fat free cheese. I added some mustard, sliced pickle and for a little more oomph I added a few pieces of romaine lettuce.
I folded the sandwich up, gave is a spritz of spray butter and grilled it on a grill pan. When done it was a perfect, crunchy sandwich which was all cuban sandwich without the added heaviness.  Quite the winning combination if you ask me!  The whole sandwich was only 7 points plus values.
You can make it more like the original and make it on an italian stick bread that's grilled ... but to save a few calories/points I make it on flat bread to boost up on the protein aspect of the sandwich.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pepperidge Farm Milano Pumpkin Spice Flavored Cookies

Since I am a certified pumpkin addict ... when I spotted these Pepperidge Farm Milano Pumpkin Spice Flavored Cookies I had to give them a shot. Admittedly, the Milano cookie isn't necessarily one of my favorites from the Pepperidge Farm line but it's a decent treat from time to time.
The pumpkin spice flavor is spread along the classic chocolate filling between the two cookies. Upon first bite the pumpkin spice flavor is evident. You can even taste it if you inhale while taking a bite. It's more spice over pumpkin - but the flavor is there and it's definitely different from your classic Milano cookie.
I can't say they were a favorite cookie of mine ... and I could get away with eating with just 1 without wanting more. They just weren't quite my thing. They're decent, but there's something about them that I wasn't doing back flips over. If these are still around this time, next year, I'm positive I won't be giving them another shot. Not because they're gross ... but just because they're not quite my cup of tea.
A serving is 2 cookies, which are 130 calories or 4 points plus values.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Caramel Apple Salad

I saw a recipe on Pinterest that immediately caught my attention. I like dessert, but I'm usually on the hunt for something that's lower in points that's "manageable" to have after dinner. But what was even better about this dessert was the fact that it contained only 4 ingredients and came together in very little time.
The end result is quite tasty - there's a nice crisp bite from the apples, while the pineapple doesn't really shine (I thought it might be a little overbearing over the apples, but it seems to be used to keep the apples from turning brown). The pineapple does add a softer texture to it, while the butterscotch pudding and the cool whip create a nice creamy layer which bring out that caramel type flavor alongside the apples.
The recipe is quite easy and delicious ... and would definitely be a good side dish to bring to a family gathering if a "healthier dessert" would be needed.
Serves 8. 4 Points Plus per serving (roughly 2/3 cup).
* 5 large apples, cored and chopped
* 1 box Jell-O Butterscotch Pudding
* 8 oz tub, Fat Free Cool Whip
* 8 oz can crushed pineapple
Wash,  core and chop apples (you can peel or leave the skin on - I chose to leave the skin on) and place into a large bowl. Toss apples with crushed pineapple.
Begin to fold in cool whip and sprinkles of butterscotch pudding, mixing evenly to ensure all apples are coated. Repeat until all cool whip and dry pudding mix is added into the mixture.
Cover and set in the refrigerator for at least 1-hr before serving.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Apple 'pie' ala Yogurt

I had some Greek yogurt in the refrigerator but it didn't sound so good to have on its own. I didn't have any fresh berries in the house and I wanted a little extra oomph with my protein packed snack. That's when the light bulb went off in my head and I realized ... hey, I have apples galore. Why not cut up an apple, sprinkle a little cinnamon over it and nuke it in the microwave for a minute?
So that's exaftly what I did. I cut up a medium sized apple into bite size pieces, sprinkled it with a touch of cinnamon, drizzled in 1 tsp of water and popped the bowl into the microwave for 1 minute. When done I set the bowl in the refrigerator to cool down a tad for a few minutes. When removed (the apples were warm but not scalding hot) I topped them with some caramel apple Greek yogurt and it was one of the best snacks/desserts I've had in a long time. A guiltless snack that only cost me 2 points plus values!