Thursday, July 31, 2014

McDonald's Premium Grilled Chicken Clubhouse Sandwich

I received a Klout perk to try out the new McDonald's Premium Grilled Chicken Clubhouse Sandwich so upon receiving my gift card I hopped onto the McDonald's website and did a little nutrition fact researching. I was actually quite surprised to find the grilled chicken version being lower in calories (or for the WW folks - points) than some of the recent sandwich releases from McDonald's.  Yesterday, my dinner didn't turn out to be the greatest so I was left with not very many options ... so I decided to go to McDonald's and give this sandwich a whirl.
The sandwich is a combination of grilled chicken, thick cut apple wood smoked bacon, "special sauce" (Big Mac secret sauce), caramelized grilled onions, white cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomato all served on a grilled artisan roll.  For those who aren't necessarily a fan of grilled chicken sandwiches this also available in a crispy chicken and beef hamburger version. As per the normal routine at McDonald's, this is one of their new sandwich launches which helps keep the menu interesting and new.
The Grilled Chicken Clubhouse Sandwich itself i actually quite delicious. The flavors go together well ... and that means, even with the special sauce on a grilled chicken sandwich. At first I was a little wary because I typically relate special sauce to a Big Mac/hamburger. Overall, it gives the sandwich a nice little zip. I would suggest getting the sandwich the way it's made and since I'm a bacon fan ... I'd say don't skip on the bacon. If you wanted to save 50 calories/1 points plus, get rid of the cheese. But the bacon, caramelized onions, special sauce and chicken itself are the game changers on this sandwich. It just really makes it a delicious sandwich.
It's delicious ... but it's messy. Then again, that's why we have such a thing called napkins and wet wipes. So roll up your sleeves (if you have any) and dig in. Don't be afraid to get your hands a little messy ... because it's inevitable.
Also ... just a little tip for the smartphone users ... McDonald's has an app you can download. Once you sign up and create an account there are special deals that are available to McDonald's customers. Most importantly on your first use, there's a free large sandwich (which is currently the Clubhouse sandwich) deal where the sandwich is free with any purchase. The deals will be removed from your phone once used ... and you typically have 2 minutes to show your phone to the order taker before your mobile coupon becomes invalid.
The grilled chicken sandwich as is is 590 calories or 15 points plus values. BUT if you want to have it without cheese it's 540 calories or 14 points plus. OR if you'd rather have it without bacon it's 490 calories or 13 points plus. OR if you're being really good and having it without cheese and bacon it's 440 calories or 11 points plus values.
If you wonder what the calories/points are for the original Bacon Clubhouse sandwich is it's 720 calories or 19 points plus values. Whereas the Crispy Chicken Clubhouse Sandwich is 750 calories or 20 points plus values. If you'd like the calculations for these without toppings check out the McDonald's website.

Lay's Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Potato Chips

When I spotted the new Do Us A Flavor display at my local grocery store I picked up two flavors: the Lay's Bacon Mac & Cheese and the Lay's Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger. I absolutely love ginger so I was anticipating giving these potato chips a shot.

Opening the bag you can see the flavoring on the chips.  Eating my first one I thought they're pretty decent. As I ate a few more I found myself pondering, trying to figure out what flavors I was possibly tasting. The chips tastes familiar ... like something I've had before, but like something I can't quite put my finger on. It's a unique, but satisfying flavor. I find you can taste garlic, you can taste a mild spice/wasabi flavor, and in an odd way ... they're reminiscent of a sour cream & onion potato chip. There is a minor zip in there from the ginger but it's not really noticeable ... there's just a collection of flavor categories that I find are hard to pinpoint.

Regardless of the complex flavors these are pretty delicious potato chips. I enjoy the fact that they're kettle cooked because they're nice, crunchy chips which pack a flavor punch. Admittedly ... even though I think these are tasty on their own I think the Bacon Mac & Cheese win over these just because with those the flavors are noticeable whereas with this variety it’s a guessing game.

As usual, a serving size is 1 ounce  (roughly 18 chips) which is 150 calories or 4 points plus values.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Trader Joe's Grilled Balsamic Vinegar & Rosemary Chicken

During those hot summer months where the last thing you want to do is stand around a hot stove or hot grill and cook something ... I tend to go for convenience items. Something that can give me a boost of protein, fill my belly and not make the house hot and/or make me too hot. I picked up a package of Trader Joe's Grilled Balsamic Vinegar & Rosemary Chicken one trip as my primary lunch for a few days.
Initially I wasn't sure if I'd like the flavor of the chicken that much since rosemary can tend to be one of those hit or miss herbs for me. In some dishes it's too strong, whereas in others it's paired perfectly ... and this was one of those dishes where it was paired perfectly with the balsamic vinegar. I packed up my lunches for a few days by measuring out my serving and placing into bowls and heating in the microwave per package directions.
I enjoyed the grilled chicken over salad alongside a side of Trader Joe's Balela. What I like most about this chicken is not only that it's convenient but that first and foremost it's flavorful, juicy, and most importantly that it's real chicken! The grill marks on the chicken also gave the chicken some added texture which gave it almost a home-cooked vibe instead of a pre-packaged meal vibe. I'm a self proclaimed chicken snob - partly because I have texture issues with some foods and that I sometimes pick at my food as I eat. This chicken surpassed the test and was quite enjoyable to have as a lunch for a couple days.
A serving, 3 ounces, is 100 calories or 2 points plus values.

Angies Boom Chicka Pop White Cheddar Popcorn

Popcorn is one of those foods I'm always on the hunt for. There's sometimes nothing better than a good tasting popcorn to satisfy the crunch and/or the savory/sweet cravings. White cheddar popcorn is one of my all time favorites, so when I spotted the Angies Boom Chicka Pop White Cheddar Popcorn on my local grocery stores shelves, I picked up a bag.
What intrigued me about the popcorn off the bat was 1) it's white cheddar and 2) it was a relatively healthier option when compared to other white cheddar popcorns on the market. Since I'm a fan of the Angie's brand I had high hopes for this popcorn and it certainly didn't let me down. It's your classic, crunchy yet slightly soft white cheddar popcorn. If you're familiar with Smart Food cheddar popcorn, this is certainly not as cheesy as that but it's cheesy in its own form. It'll leave your fingertips cheesy (which I think is the best part). It's a great snack and a better for you alternative.
A serving, roughly 2 1/2 cups (28g) is 150 calories or 4 points plus values.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Trader Joe's Chocolate Chip Brownie & Oats Bar

Snack bars are something I like to have on hand for the occasional instance where I need a snack or I need something that's portable. I spotted these Trader Joe's Chocolate Chip Brownie & Oats Bars and plopped them into my shopping cart. What sold me? Truthfully, the word "brownie."
After giving these a try, I found going into them hoping for a brownie alternative ... it's there but it's not 100%.  I'd say it tastes like a "healthy brownie". Since it's made with oats, it's got a slightly chunky texture to it. It's very chocolatey which is perfect for those who are chocolate dessert or even general chocolate fans. The chips in it give it an added crunch while also providing a smooth chocolate flavoring. I did quite enjoy these and found them to be satisfying as a small snack or part of a dessert.
Trying these bars, I found a few useful ways to enjoy them. Out of the package is fine, warmed slightly in the microwave, or better yet, warmed in the microwave and topped with a little bit of ice cream or fresh fruit and whipped cream. It transforms it into a delightful little dessert.
Each bar is 120 calories or 3 points plus values.

Limited Edition Banana Split Oreo's

I've said this before and I'll say it again ... I'm a sucker for Oreo's. Something about that chocolate cookie and that sweet cream gets me every time. So, needless to say, when I see a limited edition flavor on the shelves the cookie monster inside of me wants to give them a try. So, with that ... I picked up a package of the Limited Edition Banana Split Oreo's.
Not only am I a sucker for Oreo's ... but I'm a sucker for anything banana flavored. Banana coffee, ice cream, cookies, muffins, etc. ... you name it, if it's banana I'll more than likely try it. So you can pretty much sum up my excitement to try these cookies. And I will say ... they certainly didn't let me down.
Upon first bite you're rewarded with this banana flavoring. It's there, it's sweet and it's in your face, but not overwhelmingly. The chocolate cookie golden cookie certainly balance out the flavor without making one more overpowering than the other. I feel the cookies help balance out the overall flavor. Now I've taken apart my cookies and tried the pink filling and it's very much muted in comparison to the banana. It's very much a muted berry flavoring - but it doesn't scream strawberry.
The whole cookie really reminds me of just banana cookies. The banana flavor steals the show and is really all that can be tasted with a solid bite. That is unless you pick your cookie apart you can taste each layer separately.  Overall ... these get 2 thumbs up from me.
A serving, 2 cookies, is 140 calories or 4 points plus values.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Trader Joe's Turkey Corn Dogs

Corn dogs are one of those fun, guilty pleasure foods I enjoyed as a young kid ... and admittedly I've enjoyed them in adulthood. Think about it ... a hot dog covered in a sweet batter that's been deep fried? Heaven! Even though they're a fun food ... it doesn't necessarily make them a healthy option. Anyway, I was pretty excited when I found the Trader Joe's Turkey Corn Dogs one afternoon while shopping.  A quick check of the nutrition facts, into my shopping cart they went.
I tried these out a few times (from the same box) ... actually using the two different cooking methods provided on the box (microwave or oven). I have to say ... I did not like these either way. The breading itself is yummy, it's got that classic corn bread flavor - slightly sweet, textured and delicious. When microwaved it's softer but when baked in the oven it's got a crispness to it. Although ... it's the actual turkey dog that turned me off. The dog was rubbery, chewy and I found it to just be all around the wrong texture for a corn dog.
So many people rave about these being all around delicious ... and part of me thinks maybe I got a bad batch. Once I give the vegetarian version I picked up a try - I will have to revisit the turkey corn dog to see if perhaps my suspicions are true.
A serving, 1 corn dog, is 150 calories or 4 points plus.

Trader Joe's Peanut Butter Cups Trax Mix

Lately I've been on a nut kick ... so I've been giving some of the selection of nuts at Trader Joe's a try. After browsing the options ... I decided to try the Trader Joe's Peanut Butter Cups Trax Mix. It contained some of my favorite nuts ... and peanut butter cups, so how could that possibly be wrong? It seemed like a match made in snack heaven. The bag lists it as "milk chocolate peanut butter cups in a blend of fruit and nuts."
The one thing I noticed is that this trax mix is loaded with almonds. LOADED! I compared it to when you get a can of mixed nuts, with peanuts, and the container is 50% peanuts ... well this is 50% almonds.  The bag is a mixture of almonds, cashews, dried cherries and mini peanut butter cups. Due to the peanut butter cups being in it ... this is certainly not something you could keep out in a warm area as it would just become a mess.
The blend of the cashews, almonds, cherries and peanut butter cups is delightful. It cures the crunch, the salty and the sweet cravings all in one. The best part is it's a healthier snack to enjoy.
A serving, 1/4 cup (30g) is 150 calories or 4 points plus values.

Lay's Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese Potato Chips

Earlier this year, Lay's was requesting their potato chip enthusiasts to submit potato chip flavors they'd like to enjoy with their Do Us A Flavor. I submitted a few myself but I was excited to see the flavor choices that were created. One of the two I purchased, I decided to try the Lay's Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese first.
Opening the bag you can really smell the smokey flavor that bacon would give off. Popping one in your mouth you can definitely taste the cheddar and a lingering smokey flavor. You don't necessarily taste bacon, but you are given the essence of smokey bacon in each bite.  The cheddar is there - sometime bolder on one chip over another, but if you're eating one after another it sort of mutes itself out and the smokey flavor is at the forefront.
I wouldn't say you get the effect of eating mac and cheese having these chips ... but they are definitely a cheddar bacon deliciousness. I do enjoy a good cheddar potato chip and this is perfect.  The chips were fresh and crunchy and there was an abundance of those perfectly folded rounded potato chips that I love so much.  The one downside ... these are terribly addicting.
Even though this is the first of the four flavors I tried ... this is definitely one of my favorite Lay's flavors and this will be getting my vote!
A serving is 1 oz (roughly 15 chips) which is 160 calories or 4 points plus values.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sweet Pepper Nachos

I would have never dreamed up this combination if it weren't for my Weight Watchers leader sharing the idea. She picked up the idea from a member in her meeting... she enjoyed it so much she shared at my meeting. It just happened to be during one of our meetings where we were talking about boosting up the fiber in your diet. I was sitting in my chair, intrigued because ... I was actually having tacos that night after my meeting. Before my meeting, I planned on having soft shell tacos ... but that idea went out the window when I heard this because I HAD to give it a try.

The end result was a delicious concoction that was not only satisfying, filling and very tasty ... but it was unique. So unique that I had it the next day for lunch as well. I did find I enjoyed the dish more chopping the peppers up into small pieces (it allowed the peppers to cook faster). I found allowing the peppers to cook in the oven for a bit before adding the toppings onto the peppers. While having the peppers whole I found I had to cook them longer (some of the larger peppers stayed crunchier in comparison to the smaller peppers).

Assembling the peppers – either chopped or in half, is simple. I popped my chopped or half peppers into a 350 degree oven for 5-8 minutes just to pre-cook them slightly. After that it’s merely ½ cup fat free refried beans spread equally into the peppers or over them. I then topped the refried beans with 3 oz of scrambled taco meat. Topping it off with ¼ cup fat free shredded mozzarella (I’d have used cheddar but I didn’t have any). I popped the assembled nachos oven and baked for roughly 15 minutes. When done, I plated it up, garnished with some shredded iceberg (for added crunch), diced tomatoes and some chunky salsa.

Delicious, fabulous, filling and only 7 points plus!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Chewy Chips Ahoy! Ice Cream Creation Root Beer Float

Okay, I'll be honest ... when these cookies first came out, I was like ohh my word. The cookie monster in me wanted to try them all, but I was a little concerned about some of the flavors. Initially I bypassed the display (after taking a picture of it to share with friends on Instagram) ... but a few weeks later, I caved and decided to pick a package up. Instead of playing it safe, I purchased a package of the Chewy Chips Ahoy! Ice Cream Creation Root  Beer Float.
I love root beer and ice cream and cookies ... so this could potentially be a match made in heaven, right? Wrong! Opening the package they have a rootbeer smell to them. Taking a big bite of the first cookie, I was quite surprised at how much they taste like root beer. But unfortunately it was so overwhelmingly flavored that it ruined it. They were too sweet - almost chemically flavored. It was rather unnatural and so odd that I couldn't eat them any longer. Although, I will say my boyfriend liked them ... so he became the rightful owner of the package of cookies because I'd have tossed them in the trash.
A serving, 2 cookies, is 140 calories or 4 points plus values.

Stacy's Pretzel Thins - Honey Dijon

Snyder's honey mustard and onion pretzel bits are one of my all time favorite pretzel snacks. They're also one of those snacks that I feel a serving size is never enough so I tend to over indulge. So since I tend to avoid those ... when I spotted the new Stacy's Pretzel Thins - Honey Dijon I picked up a bag. A quick check of the nutriton facts ... they went into my shopping cart.
If you're familiar with pretzel thins these are just that covered with a light dusting of honey dijon flavoring on them. I find the pretzel flavor is a lot more noticeable over the honey dijon flavoring. These aren't overloaded with honey dijon flavoring (I'd compare them to the honey mustard and onion nibbles by Snyder). I did enjoy these, I thought they were decent ... but they most definitely did not beat out the Snyder's bits. These would be outstanding if the flavor was just a little more intense.
A 1 oz serving (roughly 12 pretzels) is 120 calories or 3 points plus.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Thomas' Limited Edition Apple Pie English Muffins

I admit ... I'm a sucker for Thomas' limited edition english muffins and bagels. So of course when I spotted the Thomas' Limited Edition Apple Pie English Muffins while at my grocery stores checkout I had to snag a package. That is ... after I gave the muffins a whiff through the plastic bag. Heaven!
There's something about Thomas' products that they smell absolutely delectable through the packaging. They smelled like fresh baked apple pie - there was the apple, slight cinnamon, sweet scent, and just homey. Nevermind the fact the shipment of english were fresh to the store, so they were nice and soft.
These are your typical fork split english which you can easily pull apart with your fingertips, or if you're fancy, you can slice them open with a knife. I didn't notice any "real apples" in the muffin just by looking at it ... but I did find that on an occasional bite there was a slight feel of apple against my teeth. After a trip through the toaster oven I decided to enjoy mine with a few sprays of spray butter (although I would recommend eating with cinnamon sugar butter, cinnamon cream cheese or even peanut butter). The english was good, soft and slightly chewy, it had a hint of apple in each bite but it wasn't overwhelming.  I'd say the flavor was a little muted, but it could definitely be enhanced depending on what is your topping of choice.
Each muffin is 160 calories or 4 points plus values.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Trader Joe's Balela

I was on a 'mission' to amp up my salads and make them tastier and unique. While browsing the shelves in the refrigerated section, I spotted and picked up a container of Trader Joe's Balela.

According to the label it's a savory Middle Eastern salad with chick peas, black beans and tomatoes. Chick peas are undoubtedly at the forefront in this dish - the black beans and tomatoes taking a much milder approach (but they're still there). There is a bit of a dressing with the beans, which is slightly tangy but delicious. There are also onion bits and parsley bits running throughout the dish. It's refreshing, unique and goes well with salads with or without added protein (steak/chicken/etc). Flavor wise it kind of reminds me of tabouli (a parsley based Mediterranean salad dish).

I found it to be a great way to increase the fiber/protein in a meal without putting too much thought into it.  In my store, this is located in the refrigerator section near the deli meats and prepared meals. Overall I feel if you enjoy Mediterranean dishes then you’d be pleased with this.

A 1/4 cup serving is 100 calories or 2 points plus values.

California Pizza Kitchen Sicilian Recipe Pizza

Pizza ... one of my favorite foods, so needless to say, I like to keep a few frozen pizza options on hand for when the craving strikes.  Well, craving or just a convenient meal when life gets crazy. The next pizza up to bat was the California Pizza Kitchen Sicilian Recipe.
I don't mind cheese pizza - but I typically purchase pepperoni pizzas as they're the liking of the folks who I live with. As I'm not eating a whole pizza myself, I like to share the pie ... so pepperoni flavored pizzas are my way of appezing the audience, if you will.  According to the box, the pizza is topped with italian sausage, spicy ham, salami, basil, mozzarella, and fontina cheeses with a tasty marinara sauce on a crispy thin crust.
The pizza itself comes on what I would consider to be one of the best thin crust frozen pizza shells. It crisps up to perfection in the oven, while also maintaining a level of softness when you bite into it. The sauce is flavored, the toppings are plentiful and it's a perfect meal ... especially alongside a salad with some italian dressing on it. The greatest part is your meal is complete within 12-15 minutes and the only "hard work" involved is cutting it up into slices and serving.
A serving, 1/3 of the pie, is 360 calories or 9 points plus values.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Trader Joe's Honey Roasted Peanuts

Lately I've been on a peanut kick ... so I figured while at Trader Joe's I'd check out their selection and see what was available. While browsing I decided to snagged a bag of Trader Joe's Honey Roasted Peanuts. My first thought was, my gosh that's a lot of peanuts! The bag contains 1 pound of peanuts and only costs $3.99 .. quite a steal when considering prices at other grocery store locations.
The peanuts themselves have that nice soft crunch you get from peanuts. They're flavored well, each peanut having its own fair share of coating. They're sweet, they're salty ... they're just plain delicious!  I know honey roasted peanuts are a dime a dozen, but these are some of the best that I've had - outside of your standard Planter's honey roasted. The only downside to them is they can be addicting and one serving isn't usually enough. But on a positive note ... it's protein!
A 1 oz serving (roughly 1/4 cup) is 170 calories or 5 points plus values.

Yoplait Greek 100 Calories Raspberry yogurt

I'm a total Greek yogurt fan ... so when I see new flavors pop up, I admit I get a little excited (it's the little things). Typically, I pop one in my cart to give it a whirl. Case in point: Yoplait Greek 100 Calories Raspberry yogurt.
Recently I have been getting more into raspberries - whether it be the fruit itself or raspberry flavoring. After giving the yogurt a quick stir, everything looked the same ... until you took that first bite. If you're a raspberry fan, you'll be able to handle the gritty little seeds running throughout the yogurt. But if you're not a fan of the gritty little seeds that come with raspberry desserts/foods ... then you'll be turned off by this. Seeds aside, this is a pretty tasty yogurt, it's delicious on its own, while you can kick it up a notch by adding a few fresh berries to it. Overall, it is a great snack ... and I have repurchased a few times so I am quite the fan.
Each container is 100 calories or 2 points plus values.

Town House Pretzel Thins - Parmesan Herb

A few months ago, Town House came out with a new snack cracker. A family member picked up a box and after raving about how good they were, I decided to give them a try myself. So, I picked up a box of the Town House Pretzel Thins in Parmesan Herb.
If you're a cracker/chip fan, then you will more than likely be a fan of these. The texture is unique ... they've got a pretzel vibe to them, where they're soft like a cracker, yet slightly firm like a chip/pretzel. The best way to describe it would be if a cracker and a pretzel had a baby. What I like the most is they're not salty or overly pretzel flavored like some of those half cracker, half pretzel crackers. These are mildly flavored with Parmesan herb but the crackers itself do the "talking." I can't express how much I truly enjoy these because they're so unique and tasty.
The only downside is that a serving is 6 crackers. You could double the serving to 12 crackers and feel as though you've had a suitable snack. I find I enjoy these the most on their own but they're also good with some cheese.
A serving, 6 crackers is 70 calories or 2 points plus values

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Trader Joe's Soft & Juicy Mandarins

It was recommended to me to try out the Trader Joe's Soft & Juicy Mandarins after I told a few folks that I loved the soft & juicy mango. Ideally I would have not picked this up if I just spotted it on the shelf on my own because ... I'm one of those people who is relatively picky about their mandarin oranges.
The mandarins are your classic soft and juicy mandarin oranges which are dehydrated. In my opinion the "juicy" somewhat away after dehydrating and they're left to be chewy and a little bit harder than one would expect. By harder I mean the natural skin on the mandarin slices becomes a little tougher. Although, I do want to clarify that if you are able to get one of the thicker mandarins they are, well, juicier.
Taste wise they're not bad - they're citrusy and they're sweet. I find after a few of these they get to be too sweet for my taste buds - far more than say, the soft and juicy mango. Overall, they're not bad they are a unique and different treat.
A serving (14 pieces) is 140 calories or 4 points plus values.

Easy Breakfast Casserole

Trying to get different breakfasts flowing in my head I resorted to a good ole Google search. I tend to fall into the same sorts of meal ideas for breakfast. So stepping outside the box, I found an Easy Cheesy Breakfast Casserole dish on Betty Crocker’s website. It looked tasty, so I decided to give it a try, but worked on lightening it up by switching out ingredients.

Initially I created the recipe using frozen hash brown potatoes and extra mozzarella shredded cheese … until I went into the kitchen, was rushing, got side tracked and forgot a few ingredients (the hash browns and additional cheese). Initially I remembered I forgot the two after it had baked and had enough time to begin cooking.

Regardless of the missing ingredients the casserole did come out quite well. Although with hash browns it would have been out of this world delicious.

Here’s how I made my breakfast bake:

Serves 6. 3 points plus a serving OR Serves 4. 4 Points Plus/serving
  • 1 cup eggbeaters
  • ½ cup egg whites
  • 2/3 cup uncooked bell pepper, diced
  • ¼ cup onion, diced
  • ½ cup mushrooms, diced
  • 1 cup Jimmy Dean turkey sausage crumbles
  • ½ cup Bisquick Heart Smart
  • ¼ cup Kraft shredded fat free mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350.

Spray the bottom of a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a non-stick skillet add in bell peppers, onions and mushrooms and cook until vegetables soften (onions should be translucent). This step is optional but I find the onions can stay crisp if not cooked.

Add vegetable mixture, sausage crumbles, and cheese to the bottom of the casserole dish.

In a medium bowl combine eggbeaters, egg whites and bisquick and mix together until combined. Then top the vegetable and sausage mixture, sprinkle with cheese and place into the oven.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until casserole is cooked through completely.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Covered Potato Chips

I've actually been meaning to post this for a while ... but here it is!
Many, many moons ago I tried a delicious combination. Milk chocolate on a salty potato chip ... and I was hooked. I'd stop into a local chocolate shop every once in a while to buy a small little bag of chocolate covered potato chips. So, when I saw these Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Covered Potato Chips I picked them up for a guilty pleasure snack.
Opening the bag you see mounds of chocolate covered wavy/ruffle chips. Most are completely covered by chocolate, while some do show a hint of potato chip. The first bite you get that natural softness from milk chocolate, while that crunch when you bite through the potato chip. Immediate thought? Heaven.  They're delicious. They're sweet. They're salty. The chocolate is smooth. They're also incredibly rich.

The fact that Trader Joe's combined their fabulous chocolate (I firmly believe they sell the best milk chocolate) and their delicious potato chips into one is like angels sing every time the bag is opened.
They satisfy a sweet tooth, while they also satisfy the crunch factor.  They're a delicious and perfect snack ... although they can also be very addicting.
A serving, 1.5 oz (roughly 6 chips) is 230 calories or 6 points plus values.

Morning Star Farms Roasted Garlic & Quinoa Veggie Burgers

When I went on vacation, I hit up one of the local grocery stores to buy some groceries for the week. Since I figured veggie burgers would be a quick and easy meal I hopped to it when I spotted a new Morning Star product. The description sounded good so I figured I'd give it a try and into my cart Morning Star Farms Roasted Garlic & Quinoa vegetable burgers went.

I absolutely love garlic and lentils, so I was all over this before I even knew what it would taste like. I've had quinoa a few times, and admittedly it's not my favorite grain, but when it's mixed with a bunch of stuff it's not very noticeable. In my eyes, the burgers had a Mediterranean flare to them. The flavors aren’t bold, they’re rather subtle but they mesh well together and are quite tasty.

I chose to heat them up in the microwave because there are times where convenience trumps all. I have to say ... these burgers are absolutely delicious. I think they take the first place spot and kick the spicy black bean burgers into 2nd.  They've got such a pleasant flavor to them and the texture isn't hard, nor is it soft ... its right in the middle. They went well with a little mustard, lettuce, tomato and a squirt of ketchup. The burger was filling, delicious and will undoubtedly be a repeat purchase for me.

A serving is 1 burger, which is 130 calories or 3 points plus values.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Trader Joe's Jelly Donut Muffins

The last couple times I've gone through Trader Joe's I've noticed a new product in their bakery section. Trying to be "good" I'd avoid it and make my way around the store. That is ... until I cracked a few days ago and placed a pack of Trader Joe's Jelly Donut Muffins into my shopping cart.

The idea is enticing ... especially if you're a donut or truly a baked goods fan. I do enjoy an occasional muffin or donut from time to time. So without  a doubt I was intrigued as to what the two would taste like morphed into one. According to the label, the product "looks like a muffin, tastes like a donut with a delicious raspberry jam filling."

Looking at the muffin itself, it's your standard regular sized muffin, which has raspberry jam pipped in the middle of it, which pools on the top of the muffin. Sprinkled on top is your classic white sugar which adds a bit of a crunch. The overall look of the muffin is promising ... but what's even better is that first bite.

The first bite was fabulous ... deliciously odd even. Not odd as in gross .. but odd as in a "how exactly did they make this taste like that?" It's got the quality of a muffin, but the taste of a donut and the sugar on top adds that little bit of gritty crunch that's classic in a jelly donut. The raspberry jam is piped to the middle and top of the muffin, so if you take a big enough bite you get the whole shebang.

They're delicious and the perfect little treat for the baked goods lover in all.

Each muffin is 320 calories or 8 points plus values.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Trader Joe's Trader Ming's Kung Pao Chicken

I enjoy Asian cuisine, although I don't always go out for it because it 1) many of the dishes are too high in calories for my liking, 2) most are loaded with sodium and 3) I find myself wanting to pick at different things instead of sticking with one solid dish.  Although, over the last few years, I have found myself making Asian cuisines at home (whether homemade or store bought) and I find I can get the flavors I'm looking for in portion size.
Scanning the selection of frozen cuisine, I decided to pick up a bag of Trader Mings Trader Joe's Kung Pao Chicken to give a try. The bag lists the dish as "a savory dish of tender dark meat chicken and mixed vegetables in a spicy soy ginger sauce."  The picture on the bag looked promising and the directions were cut and dry. This meant dinner would be done in a breeze before I knew it.
Following the directions on the bag, dinner was done in under 10 minutes. A little olive oil in the pan then I cooked up the chicken, once complete I added in the vegetables and let them cook down a bit.  Then I added in the sauce and then the peanuts.  The dish itself is filling, flavorful and delicious. It tastes like take out so there's no feeling of being gypped out of a meal you've been waiting for.
If you're not a fan of spicy - you may not enjoy this. The dish is indeed hot ... borderline mouth on fire spicy.  There are red chili's in the dish (which I made sure to pick out before serving) and if you were to accidentally eat one, I can't say you'd have a pleasant experience. A serving is truly plentiful and alongside some fried rice (I recommend Trader Joe's Vegetable Fried Rice) and a vegetable of your choice it's a complete and delicious meal.
A serving, 1 cup (150g) is 240 calories or 6 points plus values.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Trader Joe's Cowboy Caviar

Around the time this Trader Joe's Cowboy Caviar was featured on the Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer I was intrigued. Intrigued, but a little scared. Perhaps it was the word caviar that installed some fear in me ... because all I could think was salty fish eggs. Not that this salsa would have salty fish eggs in it ... but you know how the mind works sometimes. Finally, fear set aside, I picked up a jar to give it a try.

Looking at the salsa through the jar, you can see it's a rather unique blend of corn, black bean onions and bell peppers. Yet, according to the Trader Joe's website it's pickled in a blend of chipolte peppers, adobo sauce and lime juice concentrate. I'm sure that's noted on the bottle but I didn't know that until I actually opened the jar.

The salsa itself is moderately thick. It's filled with corn, black beans, peppers and onions which is a plus because sometimes salsas are overwhelmed with tomatoes.  The Cowboy Caviar does have a spicy/hot category to it, there's also a mild level of sweetness to it. I served myself 4 tablespoons and enjoyed them with some salty tortilla chips and found it balanced it out ... although there was a minor burning sensation in my mouth afterwards. Not painful, but noticeable.

Since I typically relate salsa to chips or salsa to taco salad that's about as far as I've tried this. Although from what I've read on Trader Joe's website they suggest using this as a sauce on a pizza. Now, I admit ... that'd be a mighty interesting, tasty pizza.

A serving, 2 tablespoons, is 25 calories or 1 points plus values or you could have 4 tablespoons for 50 calories and 1 points plus.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Trader Joe's Roasted Chicken Patties

As a frequent shopper, I've seen the Trader Joe's Roasted Chicken Patties from time to time. I decided to pick a package up to give it a try because it is more along the lines of a convenience food (as in you heat it and eat it). Even though I typically prefer raw chicken burger patties I figured I’d forgo my preference and ‘think outside the box’ if you will.

Truthfully, I'd been hesitant to purchase the patties because they are quite thick. I have texture issues with food and chicken products tend to be my nemesis, particularly when it comes to texture. I stashed these in the refrigerator and pulled them out one day when I wasn't in the mood to truly cook. I heated the patties in the microwave per the directions and allowed them to cool just slightly before serving.

The patties are refrigerated, fully cooked, and are a pretty good source of protein (26 grams).  The downside as you can imagine is the texture. They're thick, chewy, almost rubbery patties. I feel like you could bounce them they're so condensed and chewy. I merely ate it because I had no other options and I was quite hungry … but I wasn’t really a fan and I more than likely will not be repurchasing these.

Each patty is 180 calories or 5 points plus values.

Trader Joe's Fat Free Angel Food Cake

Angel Food Cake is one of those desserts that I can have, truly, any time of the year ... but for some reason I associate it with spring/summer months. So ideally, those are the times that I typically eat it. One day on a run through Trader Joe's I spotted and picked up a Trader Joe's Fat Free Angel Food Cake.
What intrigued me first and foremost was the fact this cake is smaller than your average angel food cake for sale at most stores. This contains four servings instead of 8-10 like most full-sized angel food cakes. This cake at Trader Joe's was softer, was sprinkled with powdered sugar and each serving was a pretty generous quarter of the cake.
The powdered sugar definitely added a hint of sweetness which was more than enough, especially when paired with fresh fruit and/or whipped cream.
A serving, 1/4th of the cake is 120 calories or 3 points plus values.

Hapi Spicy Sriracha Peas

I've seen these Hapi Spicy Sriracha Peas at my local grocery store and Target for months, then one day I finally decided to pick them up. Why? Well, I love sriracha and it was a new and unique snack ... let alone one that was decently high in protein (well, in comparison to snack bars, etc.).
Opening the bag, the peas look exactly like they do on the packaging. They're orangey red peas which have a slight coating on them. When you bite into the peas, you do see the green of the pea itself. Flavor wise ... these are delicious (that is, as long as you enjoy garlic and chili)!  As the bag states, these are 1) spicy, 2) garlicy and 3) chili flavored. The thing I like the most is that they are a solid garlic chili flavor from the first to last bite. They are undoubtedly spicy, so if your flavor palette isn't into that sort of thing, then these may be a little too hot for you to handle.
A 1/2 cup serving (30g) is 130 calories or 3 points plus values.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Hungry Jack Easy Pack Funfetti Pancakes

I have been on the hunt for this pancake mix for months and have come up empty handed ... until recently. I stopped at one of my local grocery stores to run in and get a breakfast item they stock. On my way through the pancake aisle, I figured I'd check to see if they had the Hungry Jack Easy Pack - Funfetti and surprisingly, they did!
If you're unfamiliar, Funfetti is a type of cake mix which is your staple cake mix with colored confetti pieces running throughout it. They don't add any real flavor to the batter ... just some fun coloring.  And that is the exact case in these ... it gives the pancakes a fun rainbow effect of colors without altering the flavor in any way.  That may be disappointing to some ... but these are your average, run of the mill buttermilk pancakes with snazzy coloring here and there.
The directions state to combine your dry mix with water, stir, let sit for 3-minutes, then make your pancakes. I found allowing the batter to sit thickened it up and made the pancakes a little airier.  Overall, they were good ... even better with a few strawberries sliced up on top.  They're enjoyable for kids ... as well as for adults who have an inner child.
A serving, 1/3 cup dry mix, is 150 calories or 4 points plus values.

Goldfish Grahams S'mores

I picked up a bag of the Goldfish Grahams S'mores at the grocery store the other day, simply to try something new and because they were on sale. I've tried some of the flavored Goldfish before but some have really been a miss for me ... so I admit, I wasn't sure how these little gems were going to turn out.
Upon opening the bag I was surprised to see chocolate graham goldfish, graham cracker goldfish AND itty bitty marshmallow cut goldfish. The chocolate and graham goldfish totally remind me of Honey Grahams which used to be one of my favorite school snacks when I was a kid. But the marshmallows are crispy little marshmallows ... similar to the marshmallows you'd get in a box of Lucky Charms. They're good on their own (if you like to eat them one at a time) or if you put one of each flavor in your mouth, you do really get the flavors associated with a s'mores.
They're a great unique snack ... and they're also kid tested and adult approved.
A 1.1 oz serving (roughly 52 pieces) is 140 calories or 4 points plus values.

Hubert's Lemonade - Diet Strawberry Lemonade

Summer time calls for lemonade, right? Typically I rely on Crystal Light for lemonade, but when I spotted this Hubert's Diet Strawberry Lemonade part of me caved and had to have it. Truthfully, I don't like to "waste" calories/points on beverages ... but I wanted to try this, so try I did.
Admittedly, I was kind of expecting a sour, tart, possibly repulsive lemonade ... but it was actually quite delicious. The strawberry was evident, the naturally tart lemonade was there and it had a nice smooth sweetness to it. It wasn't sickeningly sweet, but moderately. I turned the bottle around to check the ingredients and was surprised to see stevia leaf as one of the ingredients. Normally ... I do not like the flavor of stevia, but this was quite good. Good enough to drink the whole bottle and refreshing enough to enjoy it.
An 8 ounce serving (1/2 the container) is 10 calories or 1 points plus value OR 20 calories and 2 points plus values.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

Stuffed cabbage has been a dish I’ve eaten since a child. It’s a family recipe and my mother is really the only one in our family that recreates my grandmother’s dish. My grandma was Polish and made the best golumpki … and my mother makes hands down THE best (so good, I won’t order them from a restaurant because I find I’m usually let down). Depending on what you put on them, they can be in a tomato sauce, plain … or as my mother makes them with crushed/diced tomatoes over the top.

I purchased a head of cabbage from one of my local grocery stores with truthfully, no real meal in mind. After jogging my memory to try to develop a meal plan … I decided to, why not take my mom’s recipe and transform it into a casserole? Same sort of meal, same flavor … but just in an easier (or lazier?) method. The few differences in cooking between my mom’s recipe and the one I make are 1) I had to cook the hamburger before putting into the dish, 2) I seasoned the beef and 3) I sautéed the cabbage down with olive oil instead of just boiling the leaves off.

The dish itself is easier compared to traditional stuffed cabbage, yet I have to admit this is slightly “messier”. The reason I say this is because the rolled version everything is contained within its cabbage wrap and if serving hot, the first few slices may crumble on its way to the plate.  The first 2 slices out of the pan are slightly troublesome unless you allow the dish to cool.

Potential crumbling aside … this is a delicious dish and one I will undoubtedly make again real soon.

Serves 8. 6 Points Plus.
  • 1 ¼ pound uncooked lean 94% ground beef
  • 2 ½ pound cabbage, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cups cooked white rice
  • 14.5 oz canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp McCormick Montreal Steak seasoning
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Non-stick cooking spray
Cook 3 cups of white rice (I use a rice cooker which makes it easier). Or you can also use microwavable frozen white rice. Season rice with salt and a little bit of pepper.

In a medium non-stick pan, add hamburger, onion, and 1 tablespoon of McCormick Steak Seasoning.  Cook over medium high heat until hamburger is crumbled and browned.

Combine hamburger and rice and toss until well combined.

Chop cabbage into chunks. Once all chopped add 2 tsp olive oil to the bottom of a large pot. Add in raw cabbage and cook over medium-high heat until cabbage is wilted down. Season cabbage with salt and pepper.

Spray the bottom of a casserole or a roasting pan. Layer half of the cabbage onto the bottom of the pan., then top with the rice and hamburger mixture, follow-up by topping with the remaining cabbage.

Sprinkle a little black pepper over the top of the cabbage and top with can of diced tomatoes (juice and all).

Cover pan with tinfoil and bake 25 minutes. Remove tinfoil and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Canary Melon

I have seen this particular melon from time to time when shopping at my local grocery store. But I admit, I am sometimes wary of different foods that I have never tried before. At Weight Watchers, they’re hosting a “Ace Your Summer Challenge” which is a little booklets that have weekly goals to work to. The goal for the week was to try a new fruit or vegetable you haven’t tried this week. So, to take the challenge with gusto … I decided I’d give a Canary Melon a shot. That is after a quick Google search to figure out what exactly it was.

Admittedly, the price sign at my grocery store was deceiving. There were melons of ALL shapes and sizes but it said $1.69. I picked up one of the smallest melons there (because some of them are straight up humongous) and popped it into my cart. At the checkout, I learned it was $1.69 per POUND which made this melon nearly $6.  Now, a little moment to “rant”…  having to pay per pound for melon is wasteful - especially since you’re throwing the rind away and scooping out seeds galore.  But that aside…

I cut up the melon to have in the fridge to pick at during the week. The melon itself, texture wise I found was a lot softer than a cantaloupe or honeydew. It’s most comparable to that of an overripe pear. It’s a pale whitish/green, which made me think it would taste similar to a honeydew. Taking a few bites … I decided it just wasn’t for me. It tastes tangy … tart even and has a “melon” flavor but nothing comparable to your classic melon flavors. It reminds me of the flavor you get out of fruit when you add lemon juice to the top (to keep I from changing color in a recipe).

The texture of the melon is what really threw me off. I’m a texture person and textures can completely disgust my palette. I’m typically a hard fruit girl. I like my apples, pears, nectarines and plums on the hard/crispy side. Ripe or overripe pears, nectarines and plums I can eat occasionally, depending on how truly ripe they are. But this melon was a texture of an overly ripe pear … you know the texture of the pears that basically ‘burst’ the moment you bite them? That’s this melon … and it was just all too overwhelming to even try to eat.

Even though this was a costly fail … I’m glad I at least gave another food a shot.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Skinnytaste Roasted Strawberry Banana Bread

I'm a fan of Skinnytaste recipes, especially when I need something different which pushes me to eat outside the box (i.e. the same things different ways). I've seen the recipe for the Skinnytaste Roasted Strawberry Banana Bread time after time, but had yet to try it out.  That is, until it turned out that I had a few extra ripe bananas and some excess strawberries in the refrigerator that were in need of use.

Before trying this recipe, I would have never thought of roasting strawberries, but it's definitely a unique twist. It brought a whole new flavor and level of moistness to the banana bread that was truly unique. I love the classic banana bread (with walnuts) but I have to say ... this took the “cake”.  This is undoubtedly one of the best banana breads I have tried. As with classic deserts strawberries typically always compliment banana … so it’s no real wonder to me as to why this is a fabulous combination.

The bread itself was delicious. Moist, soft, a little chewy and was a perfect spin on a classic.  Out of the two banana breads I made (the classic with walnuts and this) the strawberry was gone within a day and a half and the classic lingered a little longer.

The greatest part is a serving (1/16th of the loaf) is only 88 calories and for those who follow Weight Watchers, a slice was only 2 points plus values.

If you’d like to give the bread a try, you can find the recipe on the skinnytaste website.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Summer time ... summer fun ... campfires, bonfires and even firing up the grill. For some reason during the summer and fall months, S'mores are just something a lot of folks look forward to. It's got the crunch and it's got the sweetness - so it does the job and typically one is more than enough, at least for my taste buds.
We had a barbecue at my house this past weekend and my aunt brought over the ingredients to make s'mores. I didn't have any the day of, but the next day they sounded delicious. So I made a couple to share amongst family.
I took the easy woman's way out ... sticking a few marshmallows on a skewer stick and "roasting" them over an oven flame. Ideally I burn my marshmallows because I swear it tastes better that way because the inside gets all ooey gooey and the outside has a bit of a crunch.
The best part is a s'more is only 5 points plus - at least the way I make them:
1 graham cracker sheet
2 (standard size) roasted marshmallows
1/4 (3 squares) Hershey chocolate bar

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Trader Joe's Wild Blueberry Pie

I introduced myself to Trader Joe's pies last month and was pretty impressed. So when I popped into the store to buy some groceries and blueberry pie was being sampled, I knew I was more than likely going to be sold. After a small bite of the sampled pie, I placed a Trader Joe's Wild Blueberry Pie into my shopping cart.

The pie is filled with small, slightly sweet, slightly tart blueberries which are encased in a smooth blueberry sauce. According to the crew member serving the pie, it was filled with blueberries fresh from Maine.  The crust is that standard, soft, slightly chewy, homemade crust I believe is signature with Trader Joe's pies.  A little dollop of whipped cream onto the top of this pie truly makes it a homerun.

A serving of pie, 1/6th, is 170 calories or 5 points plus values.

Trader Joe's Rolled Oats

Ever since I got myself on an oatmeal frenzy ... I had been eating oatmeal nearly daily for months on end. I had been purchasing quick cook oats from my local grocery store ... yet every time I went to Trader Joe's, I'd give their oatmeal selections the once over but refrained from picking up a bag of oatmeal to try since I'd have a fresh new container at the house. Well, on one of my last shopping trips I was running out of oatmeal ... so I decided it was my chance to try out the Trader Joe's Rolled Oats.  And all I can say is ... boy, am I glad I did!
When I opened the bag I have to admit ... I was surprised by what I saw. Whole oats ... not crumbled "dusty" flakes compared to the stuff I had been purchasing. Checking out the nutrition facts I took note the protein is higher by a gram and the carbs are slightly lower in comparison to the quick cook oats I was buying for months on end.
The bag states to mix 1/2 cup oats with 1 cup water and microwave for 2 minutes, stir then cook for another minute. I find I have to add a smidge more water (I do 1/2 cup silk almond milk, 3/4 cup water and a sliced banana) and microwave it 5 minutes. The 3 minutes leaves water in the bowl and leaves the oats crunchy. I'm not a crunchy oatmeal girl ... so 5 minutes does the trick and it comes out perfect. The oats are still intact but they're cooked and not crunchy bits.
I have to say ... I really am enjoying these! They're filling, a bit more filling than what I was using in the past. I have yet to try these in any baked goods - i.e. oatmeal cookies, etc., but I think they'd turn out just fine.
Price wise, these are a little higher than what I was buying - but the benefits outweigh the cost. The oatmeal is 100% whole grains, wheat free, dairy free, gluten free and it contains no artificial colors or ingredients.
A 1/2 cup serving is 150 calories or 4 points plus values.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Betty Crocker Watermelon Cupcakes

Spring and summer months my favorite fruit is hands down, watermelon. I find myself trying watermelon flavored items – cookies, candies, ice creams, etc.  Needless to say when I spotted this Betty Crocker Watermelon Cupcakes boxed cake mix at Target … I had to purchase it. I mean, what could be the worst thing that happened?

As with any boxed cake mix, whipping it together is easy breezy … especially if you’re skipping the eggs, water and oil and simply using diet soda or soda water. Once combined, the mixture definitely has a watermelon scent to it. My cupcakes baked up in 10 minutes.

In stores, Target was also selling a watermelon flavored frosting. Since I felt it would be too much of one flavor, I opted to use cool whip as a frosting. 2 tablespoons of cool whip per cupcake and they were perfect. They definitely have a watermelon flavor and scent to them. It has that Jolly Rancher flavor vibe to it, but not overwhelmingly artificial. There is “watermelon seeds” running throughout the batter – but they’re more like black funfetti beads.  Overall this is a unique and fun cake mix that is definitely good for a summer party/barbecue.

If the mix is made with diet soda or soda water (making 24 cupcakes) each cupcake is 65 calories or 2 points plus values. Or if you make giant cupcakes (12 servings) it’d be 130 calories or 4 points plus values.