Saturday, August 23, 2014

Trader Joe's Organic Milk Chocolate Truffle

I've seen an array of new organic chocolate bars but the one thing that swayed me away from them was the fact most are dark chocolate and/or they have dark chocolate in them. I'm not a huge dark chocolate fan so I was hesitant to try. On one trip, I finally decided to give it a go, so I picked up a bar of the Trader Joe's Organic Milk Chocolate Truffle.
The description on the back of the wrapper reads: "this milk chocolate bar is made with special caramelized milk, resulting in an extra creamy smooth texture. Rich milk chocolate surrounds an intense, velvety smooth dark chocolate truffle center. A sumptuous bar with a classic taste."  I stand firm in my belief that Trader Joe's provides some of the best chocolate. I have to say, this chocolate bar doesn't sway me from that belief what-so-ever.
The milk chocolate is smooth and creamy, while does give off a buttery/caramelized flavor to it. The truffle is a smooth rich dark chocolate which gives the bar an added softness. I enjoyed this and would recommend allowing this to melt on your tongue rather than just chewing it. Allowing it to melt the flavor categories come to life more-so.
The bar is sweet and I found 3 squares to be more than enough, otherwise it can be a bit too rich on the taste buds. Even though the dark chocolate truffle helps cut back at the natural milk chocolate sweetness, this is one of those candy bars I'd recommend sharing with a friend or two. Whether that being to share the chocolate love ... or to avoid eating the whole thing on your own.

A serving, 5 squares, is 250 calories or 7 points plus values.

Set it & Forget it: Pulled Chicken

I've been making pulled chicken in my crock pot for a few years - but typically I make it with some McCormick BBQ seasoning in it so it's a complete BBQ pulled chicken meal by the time I get home. I decided to give another recipe a try where this time there is no barbecue sauce in the dish - just seasonings and onion. I made it 2 different ways (skinless chicken breast with and without the bone) and both have been fantastic.
It's simple to put together - put into a croc pot, season, turn it on and let it do its thing. The "hard work" (I use that term very loosely) is only involved in shredding the chicken and discarding of any bones (if you decide to use bone-in chicken breast).
The end result is moist, flavorful, delicious shredded chicken breast that is available for a variety of meals. Sandwiches, enchiladas, salads, wraps, casseroles, etc. Anything you could use cooked chicken in, you can use this chicken in and it makes meal prepping 10-times easier.
All to do is quite simple:
* Add 1 large or 2 small onions to the bottom of the crock pot
* Add in my skinless chicken breast
* Season with the seasonings of choice (I recommend chicken poultry seasoning & even a little steak seasoning, etc.)
* Cover it
* Turn Crock pot on low and let it cook for 6-8 hours
* When done shred chicken with 2 forks

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Angie's Sweet & Spicy Kettle Corn

I spotted and picked up a bag of Angie's Sweet & Spicy Kettle Corn one day on a day trip to Maine with family. I was surprised to find such a unique flavor considering in my area there's only 4 flavor varieties that my local grocery chains stock and sell.

The flavor sounded unique and since I do like my occasional pizzazz filled snack I figured this would do the trick. Upon first bite you can taste the natural sweetness that comes with kettle corn ... and then comes the heat. At first it's mild … but as you eat a little more it gets spicier. I found some kernels were so caked in spice that I was literally coughing from the heat. The sweetness from the kettle corn goes away and all that was left was spicy hot heat. Lots and lots of heat. My mouth was absolutely on fire! I find this to be good and tasty, but it's undoubtedly a snack you need to have a beverage on hand to consume. It’s also a snack that’s better in small doses.

A serving is 2 cups (28g) for 140 calories or 4 points plus values

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Trader Joe's Dried Baby Sweet Pineapple

I am not really a dried fruit person - it's really give or take for me. But recently I had been looking into dried pineapple because I've heard how good it is. I picked up a pack of the large dried pineapple rings but an employee told me she had not tried those but she loved the Trader Joe's Dried Baby Sweet Pineapple. I decided to go with her recommendation and picked up a bag to try out.
Pineapple is typically one of those fruits I enjoy in its natural form. Candied pineapple can get too sweet and it's just not something I look for. With some fruits, when dried, they can become what I call "fruit leather" which is why I tend to not reach for dried fruit very often.
When I opened the bag I was slightly concerned because you can see the core of the pineapple. Typically the core is hard and not something you attempt to eat in fresh pineapple. Concerns aside I popped a smaller piece in my mouth and was pleasantly surprised. The fruit is chewy, sweet, relatively soft and quite delicious. The core of the pineapple isn't hard. A serving is also plentiful (particularly if you weigh it out on a food scale).  This can get a little overwhelmingly sweet so I find a few pieces is more than enough to satisfy the sweet tooth.
A 40g serving (roughly 1/4 of the bag), is 130 calories or 3 points plus values.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Trader Joe's Peanutters

While shopping I passed by a display of cookies twice ... and on the third pass-by I decided to check out the nutrition label. The cookies looked good, sounded good and a serving was pretty substantial in comparison to other cookies. With that, the Trader Joe's Peanutters Peanut Butter Cookies found a place in my shopping cart.

At checkout the cashier asked if I had tried the cookies before - I told him no. He let me know they're delicious and taste similar to a Nutter Butter. I like an occasional Nutter Butter so I figured these had to be good.

Good .. is an understatement. These cookies are nothing short than amazing.  I will also go out on the line and say these are the best store bought peanut butter cookies I have tried. They're chalked full of peanut butter goodness: peanut butter, dry roasted peanuts and peanut butter chips. A peanut butter triple whammy which is oh-so-delicious! The cookies themselves are roughly the size of a silver dollar. They are a crispy cookie, which in every bite packs a little surprise - whether it's a peanut butter chip or a piece of a dry roasted peanut.

A serving is 6 cookies, which are 150 calories or 4 points plus values.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Haul: Weight Watchers Cook It Fast Cookbook

I learned about this new Weight Watchers Cook it Fast Cookbook from a fellow Weight Watchers member on Instagram. I'm a Weight Watchers cookbook fanatic so I decided to give this one a try. Afterall it was only $12 on Amazon with free shipping to Amazon Prime members.
Years ago I used to love watching Rachel Ray's 30-Minute Meals. Granted, at the time, I was only beginning to start to get into cooking ... but it was a way to make a meal, quickly, that wasn't out of a box. I figured this cookbook would be similar to that ... the only difference I didn't have to plug the recipe into e-tools recipe builder to figure out the points plus values!
From what I've seen this cookbook is pretty decent. It's broken down into time allotments - 15, 20 and 30 minutes. There's a mixture of breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas. The subsections are not necessarily broken up into those categories, but they tend to follow that pattern. At the beginning of each time allotment there is an index which lists all recipes in that section along with the associated page number.
Just due to the layout this is a cookbook you'd have to flip through beforehand to get an idea of what you'd like to make. There's no saying "I have chicken... what am I doing with it?" that is unless the recipe name contains that word in it.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Graze Box Subscription

Recently I subscribed to a snack delivery service: Grazebox. I've heard a lot about Grazebox over the year and had yet to give it a try. A friend of mine shared a promo code to receive your first box for free ... so I signed on up.  My first box was free and any boxes following that are a flat $6 (which includes shipping).

What I liked most about the subscription was it provided two options - a calorie counter box and a 'regular' box. Since I follow Weight Watchers I opted to go with the Calorie Counter box because I felt it would be the "healthier" of the two boxes.
With Grazebox you can go in and rate snacks based on whether you think you would enjoy them. There is no choosing exactly what snack you'll get but if you rate some more favorable than others, you'll more than likely receive a box that will suit your taste. I admit - I wasn't aware of this when I initially signed up. I also wasn't aware that there is a delivery option which you can choose how frequently you'd like to receive a box. Initially I pushed the date back twice -- which only pushed the receipt of my first back to that date.  After emailing customer service I was advised and changed the date to a date I'd like to receive my Calorie Counter Grazebox.
In my first box I received:
* Mississippi BBQ Pistachios - Smoked BBQ pistachios
* Hot Cross Yum - Orange raisins, sponge pieces & cinnamon honey almonds
* My Thai - Sweet Chili Sauce with Baked Soy Bites
* Garden of England - Mini strawberries, apple and blackcurrants
My thoughts? The best out of this box were the Mississippi BBQ pistachios and the hot cross buns. The pistachios were a nice smoky BBQ flavor and the hot cross buns were just delicious -  tangy but sweet.  I was not a fan of the My Thai .. I just couldn't handle the crunchy little soy crisps and the thai sauce. Whereas the Garden of England just wasn't my style of snack - so I passed it on to someone who would enjoy.
Overall it wasn't bad for the first box and first try at something new. Plus the snacks are portion sized and come with a little nutrition fact sheet for each snack - so you can track your calories/points plus values appropriately.

Limited Batch Chobani Watermelon Greek Yogurt

I popped into Target to pick up a few things. When scanning the yogurt case, I spotted and immediately picked up the Limited Batch Chobani Watermelon Greek Yogurt. My initial reaction was – get out of here WATERMELON YOGURT?! I tend to get ‘adventurous’ with Greek yogurts so I was excited to give this a try.

Watermelon is one of my favorite fruits … so I wasn’t sure exactly how this would pan out and I was a little hesitant with the first bite.  As with most unique flavored foods, it can either go right or way left. Regardless, I have to say, this yogurt is absolutely delicious! It’s got a mild watermelon flavor along with that slightly tart greek yogurt flavor. It’s got a refreshing quality to it while it’s not overly artificially flavored and it’s not very sweet either.  The consistency of the yogurt is also a lot thinner than your average Chobani yogurt.

A container is 140 calories or 3 points plus values.

Trader Joe’s Red Cold Pressed Juice

I’ve heard a lot about the benefits of juicing … and then I’ve heard about cold pressed juices and how god they are for you.  The costs of cold pressed juices are through the roof ($9-12 a bottle and some places sell a 3-day cleanse for over $100). Truthfully, I feel $9 is a little steep for a juice I’m not even sure I’d like. Needless to say when I saw a line at Trader Joe’s I decided to give it a try. Scanning over the available varieties … I went with what I felt was the “safest” (meaning more of the ingredients I enjoyed at the time) – Trader Joe’s Red Cold Pressed Juice.

What sold me was the fact it has beets in it. I love beets… they’re one of my favorite vegetables to have all year long. But they’re also one of those vegetables that get a bad rep.  Admittedly before this point I had never really juiced. But I wanted to try something new, something healthy … so bottoms up I went.

The juice contains 1 ¼ beets, roughly ½ cucumber, 1 medium apple, 2 1/4 carrots,1/3 lb spinach, 2 inches of ginger and some celery. Unfortunately this was not a juice for me. I did not like it at all. It was too celery tasting for me to handle. The apple didn’t give it much sweetness … and the ginger was very mild in flavor.  It does have that irony beet flavor. I think your taste buds have to be trained to drink something like this to fully enjoy it.

A bottle is 110 calories or 3 points plus values.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Chobani Greek Yogurt Oats - Blueberry

I'm a fan of overnight oats ... so when I heard Chobani released a line of Greek yogurt that was mixed with steel cut oats, I knew I had to pick some up. After checking a few grocery stores refrigerator sections .. I finally found the Blueberry Chobani Greek Yogurt Oats.
Chobani is one of those Greek yogurts that I have a love/hate relationship with. I love how thick it is ... but I don't love how sour some of the flavors can be. With that I have to say, I was surprised with how runny/loose the yogurt was ... it's not that thick creamy yogurt that Chobani typically packages.  Within the yogurt are mildly chunky steel cut oat pieces. It's not chunky gross... the oatmeal is milled finer than your average oatmeal. 
I found that this yogurt is sweeter in comparison to some of the other Chobani flavors on the shelf. It had a nice mild sweetness to it, it wasn't tart ... and it was rather delicious.  A great grab-and-go type of snack. It's a version of overnight oats made simple and convenient.
A container is 160 calories or 4 points plus values.

Limited Edition Fruit Punch Oreo's

On a lunch time run through Wal-Mart to pick up a few items I spotted and decided to pick up the Limited Edition Fruit Punch Oreo's. I was initially wary of how they'd taste because I never imagined joining a cookie with fruit punch. I love fruit punch ... and I have a deep love for Oreo cookies. Since I live on the edge at times (haha) I decided to give them a go.
The adventurous flavor is one of the golden Oreo flavors. Opening the package up they smell JUST like Hawaian fruit punch. After taking a bite ... I have to say, they smell more fruit punch than they taste. It's definitly a different flavor ... but I like the fact the fruit punch flavored cream isn't as pungent as one would assume. I wouldn't say they're delicious and I wouldn't suggest you run out and pick up a pack. But I would say they're decent ... they're not bad, but they're not fabulous.  Overall, I think when I shared these with my niece and nephew they enjoyed them more so.
A serving is 2 cookies, which is 140 calories or 4 points plus values.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Trader Joe's Rolled Oats & Peanut Butter Fiberful Granola Bars

Once in a while I'm in the mood for a snack bar. Usually, I don't have them because I'd rather have a sustainable snack. Spotting the Trader Joe's Rolled Oats & Peanut Butter Fiberful Granola Bars I decided to give them a try. What sold me was the fact it was peanut butter, they were loaded with protein AND fiber.

After opening a package, I was surprised with how generous the bar was. Typically with many prepackaged granola bars they're on the smaller side of the equation. The bar is unique because the bottom has a smooth thin layer of chocolate over it with a chocolate drizzle over the top. There's peanut butter chips that cover the top and the bar itself has a delicious peanut butter and oat flavor. Since this is packed with fiber (9g) and protein (6g) - it does have a very mild "fiber" taste to it but the peanut butter and chocolate mute it pretty well.

I find these to be absolutely delicious and it's a treat that I find myself reaching for whenever I'm in the mood for something sweet, chewy and satisfying. The only downside due to the chocolate is they don't travel all that well in hot climates (which is expected).

A bar is 130 calories or 3 points plus values.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Powerberries

I’m not the biggest dark chocolate fan … but something about the Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Powerberries was intriguing to me. I decided to purchase them while they were one of the products of the week that was being displayed near the checkout. As it normally goes … it’s the things you’re unsure about that turn out to be the most delicious.

The bag describes the treat as “real fruit juice pieces made with acai, pomegranate, cranberry and blueberry juices and dipped in smooth dark chocolate.” It also states the powerberries are an “excellent source of vitamin c, made with dark chocolate, a natural source o flavanol antioxidants.” The insides of the berries are flavorful … sweet, tart and chewy while the dark chocolate calms the flavor categories down and makes it all come together. Utterly fabulous if I put it lightly.

The closest thing I can compare the powerberries to would be chocolate covered raisins, but so much better. They curb the sweet and chewy craving with a slam dunk. They are utterly delicious and a serving – or even a couple is enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. Too many can certainly become overwhelming.

A serving is ¼ cup (40g) which is 180 calories or 5 points plus values.

Edy's Limited Edition Fun 'n the Sun Banana Split Ice Cream

I'm a self proclaimed banana junkie -- meaning I really enjoy banana flavored foods. Back in the day, Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey was one of my favorite ice creams because it's a banana flavored treat.  One of my local ice cream shops makes homemade banana ice cream and it's amazingly delicious. I've been on the hunt for a decent lighter banana ice cream ... and I just so happened to find Edy's Limited Edition Fun 'n the Sun Banana Split Ice Cream at the grocery store one day.

What sold me off the bat was of course the banana ice cream part. According to the label this is: "Banana light ice cream with cherry-on-top and fudge swirls." This ice cream is all that and more. It's delicious ... a nice smooth banana ice cream which doesn't have that artificial aftertaste to it. In every other bite there's a hint of chocolate fudge swirled in and the cherry swirls are heavenly. The cherry I found to be reminiscent of jam and has a slightly chewy texture to it. It's delicious and probably one of my favorite Edy's flavors so far

Sadly, this is a limited edition flavor ... but it should undoubtedly be part of the Edy's line.

A 1/2 cup serving is 100 calories or 3 points plus values.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Filled with CaramelTrader Joe's Milk Chocolate Filled with Caramel

I'm a firm believe that Trader Joe's and Aldi sell the best chocolate around. It's also because of these two stores chocolate products that I'm now a self proclaimed chocolate snob. Why? Well, I'm starting to find regular name brand candy to not be so tasty any longer. I was in the mood for something sweet last time I was shopping so I picked up a Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Filled with Caramel bar because they're at the checkout and they're only 99 cents.

When I was a kid I loved caramel chocolates (more importantly, Cadbury's Caramello bars) ... so I had a strong inkling that I would enjoy this. Opening the bar up it's 6 little squares which all linked together as a bar. The chocolate "shell" is firm, yet soft and can crush in your fingertips if you're trying to break a piece off.  The chocolate itself is smooth, velvety, delicious milk chocolate while the caramel is soft, gooey, and sweet yet not overly. I don't find this to be so sweet that it leaves your taste buds overwhelmed ... it's milder in sweetness to satisfy but not sicken. It's perfect to share ... or if you're in a chocolate mood to enjoy on your own.

A bar is 220 calories or 6 points plus values.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Thriving while on vacation

Months back I went on vacation with the mentality that I had to make the best of it and give it my all. I didn’t want to go into it saying it’s vacation … it’s an eat fest... it doesn’t matter. I wanted to be aware and I wanted to be in control. At the end of the day regardless of what I think, it matters because my decisions affect my livelihood and they affect my waistband. I was OK with the fact that perhaps I may gain a smidgen (merely due to eating out more than I do) or I could slam dunk it, enjoy myself and lose as a result.

It just so happened that we had rented a house while on vacation in Florida. This meant I could be at “home” with my meals. Not necessarily meaning I was bringing my kitchen with me but this meant that I could prepare some staples that I enjoyed as at least 1 to 2 meals a day. The only food items I packed with me and took along for the ride were some instant oatmeal, miniature pita pockets, a few snack bars and some smoothie mix.  I also packed a few measuring cups (1/4 cup & 1/3 cup), a measuring spoon (1 tbsp), and my food scale. I’ve brought these items along while I’ve gone away (plane rides away) and I’ve also done this when staying at a hotel for a few days.

My measuring utensils give me a sense of accuracy. I’ve followed Weight Watchers over 4-years and I can kind of eyeball a serving … and I do when I’m having dinner with family and friends. But if I’m going away for an extended period of time the dreaded ole portion distortion can bite me in the behind.

After landing, heading to the house, dropping off luggage and getting acquainted for a little bit … it was time to hit up the grocery store. Thankfully we landed earlier or we’d have had to wait until the next morning to go to the grocery store. I picked up staple groceries that I enjoy while at home: fresh fruit and veggies, deli meat, hamburger, fat free Pringles, condiments, Greek yogurt, veggie burgers, Jell-O, frozen fruit, water and Coke Zero. I purchased enough fresh food to have during the week to include in breakfast, lunch/dinner and at least toward a snack for a day.

I didn’t want to exclude myself from the festivities so I figured I’d eat out at least one meal a day … and one meal I typically did eat out. If my family that I went with decided to have fast food – like McDonald’s for dinner I’d pass and make myself a veggie burger because it wasn’t worth it to me (plus I can have McDonald’s any time I want…).  There were a number of restaurants I wasn’t familiar with … but if I wasn’t able to look up the menu online, I’d give the menu a once over at the restaurant and kindly ask the server for my food the way I wanted it (light/fat free dressings, no butter, etc.).

If you’re in a scenario where there isn’t a stove, microwave or refrigerator available you can always purchase fresh produce that will last sitting out on the counter. They’re a good grab and go. You can always eat a lighter breakfast – greek yogurt with fruit, or you can go out for breakfast and choose what’s “worth” it to you that you’d enjoy eating. You’re not going to be happy if you’re eating things you DON’T want to really eat. If you’re faced with eating every meal out … enjoy yourself, order what you’re comfortable having and what you would enjoy having. Don’t feel left out of the crowd and more importantly don’t exclude yourself from the crowd.

Trader Joe's Authentic Belgian Waffles

Waffles are one of those foods that I enjoy, but look at as a treat. It's a dish that I have once in a while ... and oddly enough at dinner time. Time after time I've seen the Trader Joe's Authentic Belgian Waffles in the freezer section but decided to not pick them up for one reason or another. That is until I was on a mission switch up my eating ... so I brought a box home.
I don't recall having belgian waffles all that often. Perhaps as a kid when I went away with my parents and we had breakfast out at a restaurant. Although these belgian waffles are fabulous. A couple minutes in the microwave to toast them up and they come out perfectly. They've got a little crunch on the outside, but the inside is fluffy, soft and slightly chewy. I found them to be absolutely perfect with just a small drizzle of syrup over them and some fresh strawberries and blueberries. Taste wise they're "plain" but they're easily jazzed up with whatever topping you decide to put on them.
A serving is 1 waffle which is 130 calories or 3 points plus values.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness

Lately I've been toying with the idea of juicing. I figured before I went all in buying the fruits and vegetables to juice I'd buy something off the shelf to try beforehand ... just to see if it's something my taste buds agreed with. I've seen the Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness in the prepared juices section of my grocery store time and time again.

After comparing some of the available green juice options, I felt Green Goodness (I call it Green Goddess ... it wasn't until I read the label I realized I was wrong the whole time) was the best to give a whirl. The juice has apple, pineapple, mango, banana, kiwi, spinach, cucumber, green tea, garlic, broccoli, wheat grass, etc. in it. Admittedly looking at it ... it looks daunting and since I have some textural issues I wasn't sure if I'd be able to drink it.

Surprisingly so ... this is quite delicious! It's NOT thick, but it's thicker than say, your average beverage - water/soda, but it's not as thick as a smoothie ... it's kind of in between but more on the waterier side of the spectrum. What I like about this is as an introduction to green juices this is sweet. You can taste the apple, pineapple, mango ... while in the background you can taste a hint of banana and spinach. The "green" part of it is muted by the natural sweetness of the fruit and juices used.

Even though I no longer drink juice (apple, orange, etc.) I found this to be quite enjoyable. If I were to make it at home I would cut back on the sweetness but it's a foot in the 'right' direction. I plan on keeping the flavors in this juice in mind when I go out shopping to pick up some goodies to make my own green juice at home.

The 15.2 fl ounce bottle contains two 8 fl oz servings, 140 calories a serving or 4 points plus - or the whole bottle is 280 calories or 7 points plus values.

Peanut Butter Oreo's

Spotting these Peanut Butter Oreo's on the shelf one day I was intrigued and picked them up (this was before the LimitedEdition Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Oreo's were released). Since I'm a long-time fan of Oreo cookie's I figured chocolate cookie + peanut butter would be magical. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Opening the cookie package up … they just didn’t give my sniffer a nice whiff of peanut butter – they smelled almost plain (if that makes sense?).  Upon first bite, the chocolate cookies themselves were scrumptious, as they always are ... but the peanut butter filling was boring. It was dry, not very flavorful and was overall a let down. I didn’t find they had a stand-out peanut butter flavor … which is a let down if you’re eating a peanut butter cookie. I was so let down by them, I ate one cookie and gave the rest of the package away because it wasn't worth even trying to enjoy.  I would have been better off, opening the two cookies, scraping the filling off and slapping some peanut butter from the cabinet onto it. Now, that would've been magical.

A serving is 2 cookies which are 140 calories or 4 points plus values.

Specialty Selected (Aldi) Blueberry Scones with Icing

I watched a Laura Vitale YouTube video and immediately found myself wanting to try a scone. I've seen scones from time to time but had never truly tried one. Not sure why ... I've seen them for sale at bakeries and pre-packaged at shops but just never gave one a shot. That is until I spotted these Specialty Selected Blueberry Scones with Icing at Aldi.

The scones are raw and require baking ... but a quick 10 minute jaunt in the oven and they are done and ready to roll. That is only until you put the icing over the top of the scones and let them sit on the baking pan for a few minutes.  Letting them sit on the pan for a few moments is crucial ... admittedly I removed 2 (one for myself and one for my boyfriend) and we found the inside wasn't quite solid and flaky. But as they were able to sit they hardened up a bit more.

The scones themselves were good and tasty, a perfect blueberry flavor. The icing added the hint of sweetness that it needed which made it a perfect dessert.  These are sold in a variety of flavors and can be purchased at Aldi store locations (for a limited time, I presume).

Each scone is 200 calories or 5 points plus values.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Friendly's Celebration Ice Cream Cupcakes

I had been on the hunt for these ice cream cupcakes. I had seen them at the store a few weeks back, but since I wasn't going home right away, I had to pass them up. Then when I went back to pick up a package... they were all sold out. It just happened that while I was grocery shopping (at a different store - Shaw's if your in the New England area) I spotted them and was able to pick up the Friendly's Celebration Ice Cream Cupcakes.

Initially I assumed these would be identical to the Carvel ice cream cakes ... but these are different and a bit special. Why? Well, the bottom layer of the cupcake is really a chocolate cupcake! Yes, you can have your cake AND eat it too! The cake is then covered with a layer of smooth vanilla ice cream. The ice cream is covered in a layer of creamy whipped icing (more like a lightly sweetened whipped cream 'frosting') which is topped with colorful sprinkles.

These are delicious and a perfect combination of whipped icing, ice cream and cake. What I like best about them is they're perfectly portioned. There is no guestimating how to cut up a whole cake or trying to figure out exactly what a serving is. These are satisfying, delicious and all around a crowd pleaser.

A cupcake is a serving, which is 160 calories or 4 points plus values.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Lay's Wavy Mango Salsa Potato Chips

Truthfully, I wasn't going to buy these potato chips. That is until I was shopping while hungry, saw they were on sale and figured "eh, why not?" That's when the Lay's Wavy Mango Salsa Potato Chips jumped into my shopping cart.

The chips are part of the Lay's Do Us A Flavor campaign ... and they are one of the flavors I was really questioning. I mean mango salsa potato chips? I LOVE mangoes and I love potato chips ... but the two just don't jive in my world. Mango salsa (the actual salsa) with tortilla chips, perhaps, but potato chips? I don't really know...

Opening the bag I could smell mango. Taking a bite of the chip ... all I could taste was mango. Mango, mango, mango! I ate another chip and couldn't handle anymore. They're a sweet, mango flavored chips. I've tried these chips a few times, each try only being able to handle 2 chips. I gave them a fair shot but I don't get any "salsa" flavor, I get mango ... crunchy mango potato chips. The two worlds just should have never crossed or become one. I think it's fair to say that I do not like these chips ... they're frankly disgusting.

If you're brave enough a serving is 1 ounce (roughly 15 chips), which is 150 calories or 4 points plus values.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Trader Joe’s Petite Cocoa Batons

I picked up a box of Trader Joe’s Petite Cocoa Batons when at TJ’s a little while ago and had the box tucked away in my closet. I initially purchased them, just because I happened to see the little picture of the product on the side of the box. Admittedly the box is rather plain and not attention grabbing.

But as they say … good things come in small packages.

The box describes the snack as “delicately crisp wafers filled with rich cocoa cream.” After opening them … I’d say I agree with the description, although I’d add some blurb about “crispy little puffs from heaven.” The wafers are small little bites, which are crisp and hallow with the inside filled with a little smearing of rich chocolate cocoa cream. I’d compare the cocoa cream to nutella. They’re a perfect snack – sweet, crunchy and just utterly delicious. They are addicting … but they can become overly sweet and overwhelming if you are to overindulge.

A serving is 17 pieces (31g) which are 140 calories or 4 points plus values.

Pinterest made me do it: Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas

I was browsing Pinterest one day and pinned a recipe for Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas. Better yet, it turned out I had pulled chicken in the refrigerator that I had needed to use up. So while at the grocery store I picked up some flour burrito tortillas, salsa verde and some shredded Mexican cheese blend. Yes! This only takes 4 ingredients!

I changed the recipe just a tad by adding in 2 tablespoons of chunky medium salsa to the chicken mixture simply because it was a little too dry. The combination of the chunky salsa and salsa verde was spectacular. It was such a simple, easy dish to put together but it was loaded with flavor, textures and deliciousness. After plating I served this to myself with a small side salad … all together a perfectly delicious meal!

The original recipe can be found here.

I cut the serving down to a single serving using 3 ounces shredded chicken breast, ¼ cup shredded 2% Mexican cheese blend, 3 tbsp salsa verde, 2 low carb flour tortillas, and I opted to use an additional 2 tbsp chunky mild salsa (optional but I used it).

I added a tablespoon of salsa verde to the bottom of a non-stick casserole dish, rolled up my individual enchiladas (I mixed the chicken, ½ the cheese and 1 tbsp salsa verde and 2 tbsp chunky salsa to a bowl, mixed and layered into 2 flour tortillas).  I topped with a tablespoon of salsa verde and the remaining shredded cheese. I baked in a 350 degree oven for roughly 10 minutes (just enough for the cheese to melt). My 2 enchiladas came out to be 10 points plus values.

Trader Joe’s Roasted Eggplant Parmesan

I was in the mood to try something new, so looking over the prepared meals section … I spotted and decided to pick up the Trader Joe’s Roasted Eggplant Parmesan. I wanted to try a roasted eggplant dish for a while. And since I’m a huge fan of the eggplant towers so I figured this might be equally as delicious.

Deciding to have this for dinner one day, I followed the microwave cooking directions. When done I removed it from the microwave and let it sit for a few minutes as it was scalding hot. Cutting it up into three equal size pieces I served a serving to myself and a serving to my mother. The one thing I liked off the bat was the fact it was so cheesy. Taking the first bite I found the sauce had a very nice flavor to it … although the eggplant was a total disappointment. The eggplant was cut into moderately thick slices which were then cut into chunks. Unfortunately that’s where the good meal stopped rolling. The eggplant was so chewy and hard I could not even eat it. The outside “ring” of the eggplant was like a chewy rubber band and the middle was slightly softer. I’m pretty sure the meal isn’t ‘designed’ to be this way … but I’m pretty sure I just ended up with a dud of a dish.  A dinner of sauce and cheese isn’t exactly my type of thing so I chucked the dish into the garbage and picked up a chicken sandwich when I ran out.

Overall consensus between my mother and me was that it had good flavor, delicious mountain of cheese BUT the fact that it’s an eggplant dish and you couldn’t even enjoy/eat the eggplant … makes it rather pointless. Fail.

A serving is 1/3 the package (8 oz) which is 280 calories or 8 points plus values.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Stuffed Chicken Breast

Chicken is one of those foods that I’m very picky about. My chicken has to be flavorful, it has to be seasoned and it has to be without skin and bone. Growing up this is actually a quick and easy dish my mother would throw together for dinner. It’s not complex in the least and it’s minimally seasoned (at least for what I consider ‘seasoned’) but the flavors go together so well that it’s perfect every time.

The chicken breast can be assembled in two ways – cutting a large chicken breast down the middle (not all the way but open like a hot dog bun) and stuffing it with the stuffing OR you can go the easier way out topping the stuffing with the chicken breast.  I prefer the second option because each serving is perfectly portioned.

This is one of my boyfriends favorite dishes … and he’s NOT a gravy guy. He doesn’t like it on his food, but he loves it on this dish because it’s not truly recognizable but it keeps the chicken and stuffing moist.
To create the dish all you need are a few simple ingredients:

  • Stove Top Chicken Stuffing
  • ~ 1 ½ pounds chicken breast
  • Low fat chicken gravy (I use Heinz jarred gravy)
  • McCormick Montreal Chicken Seasoning
  • Black pepper
  • Oregano

Preheat your oven at 350 degrees.

Clean your chicken breast and set aside.

Mix together your stove-top stuffing per the microwave directions. I simply use water and a few squirts of spray butter and mix and combine.  I made 7 servings of chicken, so I evenly divided the stuffing onto a baking sheet that was sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. (Evenly dividing I got 1/3 cup servings, plus roughly 1 tbsp per 7 servings).

Top your stuffing mounds with quarter pieces of chicken breast. I evenly distributed my chicken over the mounds to make them as visually even as possible.

Sprinkle each chicken breast with oregano, black pepper and montreal chicken seasoning.  Top each chicken breast with 1 ½ tbsp chicken gravy (smooth the gravy over the chicken trying to cover the whole surface of it).

Bake the chicken in a 350 degree oven for roughly 30 minutes (or longer depending on the thickness of your chicken).

My chicken came out to 5 points plus a serving – as long as the chicken was 2.8-3 oz cooked.

Dinner: Sloppy Joe-Tato

For weeks I have been saying I want sloppy joe for dinner and for weeks I didn't have it because dinners are usually one of those things I try to cater to everyone’s taste buds. Finally, after deciding I was going to have my sloppy joe I made it for dinner and it was delicious! I actually whipped this up with some 93% lean ground turkey, diced onion and bell pepper. I seasoned up my turkey with dry hamburger seasoning and when done, I went the easy way out and added some canned sloppy joe sauce.  I've made it homemade in the past and I've gone the canned way from time to time ... but I wanted fast and easy … and fast, easy AND delicious is what I got!

Instead of throwing it on your classic hamburger bun, I decided to have it one of my favorite ways ... over a baked potato!  It's what I call a Sloppy Joe-Tato.  It's such a filling and satisfying meal this way because you're getting a hearty side with the savory sloppy joe over it. Admittedly, I do enjoy this alongside a small garden salad because I like the balance.

I split my sloppy joe into 7 servings (which ended up being 5 points plus values), cut open a 5.5 oz potato and dinner was an easy, filling 8 points plus values.

Trader Joe’s Protein Power Chocolate Chunk Banana Muffins

This is a very old post that I’ve failed to share on my blog … I found it in my archives and am reposting it here!

Muffins are one of those foods that are a bit of a “comfort food”. They’re perfect as part of a breakfast, whereas they’re also great snacks. I take a peek at the muffin assortment at Trader Joe’s and one day I finally decided to pick up a package of the Trader Joe’s Protein Power Chocolate Chunk Banana Muffins. Why? Well, 1) they’re banana, 20 they’re loaded with protein and 3) they smell heavenly.

The muffins are very reminiscent of a low fat banana bread I’ve made (Skinnytaste’s recipe) –yet with a little chocolate kick. They’ve got a slightly wet texture on the outside and they’re relatively moist, while also slightly dry. Needless to say I thought these were pretty tasty. They are filling, so one is usually enough then again I eat these as a snack and not a meal replacement. They are dense but the chocolate gives it a nice sweetness and the chocolate is softer in texture, and doesn’t have a bite as your average Tollhouse chips would.

One thing I do want to note are the muffins tend to stick to the muffin liner but in lighter baking … I’m used to that. Nonetheless they are good they do taste like a healthy version of banana bread and the fact it has 7 grams of protein in one serving was enough to sell me.

A serving is 130 calories or 3 points plus values.

Trader Joe's Hickory Barbeque Baked Potato Chips

Every once in a while I'm on the hunt for a new potato chip - typically for a new flavor or just the need to cure the want for a "crunch". One of the chips I tend to pick up from time to time are the Trader Joe's Hickory Barbeque Baked Potato Chips.

The two things that intrigued me the most about these potato chips are the fact that they're baked and that they're hickory barbeque flavored. I'm not a huge barbeque chip fan ... except I do enjoy the sweeter barbeque flavors over the spicier. These are what I'd describe as middle of the road. They're slightly sweet, yet mildly spiced. The texture of these chips isn’t your classic crispy fried potato chips. These are slightly thicker than your average potato chip ... but they're also harder and crunchier (then again, they are baked).  They're not airy like some other baked/popped chips these have a bite to them ... but they're not hard. They're just slightly harder than your average baked potato chip – if that makes sense.  These are quite good and I do enjoy them, perhaps more than some of the other baked potato chips I've tried over time. I have repurchased these numerous times and have paired these against a sandwich option for lunch or dinner and they’ve gone over well amongst my lunch/dinner guests.

A serving is 1 ounce (28g or roughly 20 chips), which is 120 calories or 3 points plus values.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Arby's Seasoned Curly Fries

French fries are one of those sides that I enjoy with certain foods. Hamburgers, sloppy joe, sandwiches, etc. It's a classic side dish and since I don't really fry french fries any longer (I bake them) I'm always checking out the available brands in my grocery stores freezer section. I do enjoy making my own french fries from time to time, but when life is busy convenience is key.
While shopping one afternoon I spotted and picked up a bag of the Arby's Seasoned Curly Fries. Curly fries are a fun dish, while seasoned fries are great because they can make a plain "boring" french fry pop.  I have to admit my closest Arby's is over 34 miles away ... so I have never been to the chain so I can't quite compare to how these taste compared to the fries served in store.
I baked the fries in the oven on a non-stick baking sheet, spritzed with non-stick cooking spray. I also spray a light mist over the top of the fries as I find this helps crisp them up more. The fries bake up to perfection in 16-18 minutes. The fries bake up crispy, while some are soft, the seasoning is pretty good (mild in spice). I do find these tend to come across a little oily when they're taken fresh out of the oven, but when they have a moment to cool and are plated it's not an issue. Overall, these are a pretty fun and delicious alternative to the plain ole french fry.
A serving, roughly 1 1/3 cups (84g), is 200 calories or 5 points plus values.

Yoplait Greek 100 Calories Blended Tempting Blackberry Tart

I love Greek yogurt ... but what I love even more is finding new flavors of Greek yogurt to shake things up. Even though there are numerous flavors on the market having something different makes it better. So while at Target I spotted and picked up a couple containers of the Target exclusive Yoplait Greek 100 Calories Blended Tempting Blackberry Tart.
During the spring and summer months I tend to be all into blackberries. I love them in my yogurt, on my oatmeal and in my desserts. With this having "tart" in the description I was hoping for that graham cracker crust flavoring ... but I didn't really notice it. It was a smooth, creamy, blackberry flavored yogurt which was refreshing and satisfying. Throw in a few fresh blackberries and you've got yourself a pretty well balanced snack.
I have since seen this yogurt sold at retailers such as Wal-Mart but instead of it being "Tempting Blackberry Tart" I believe (I cannot recall 100%) it's merely called Blackberry Tart.
A container is 100 calories or 2 points plus values.