Friday, February 28, 2014

Trader Joe’s Favorites … My Recommendations




I have so many favorites at Trader Joe’s that I discover (and continue to discover) and re-purchase time and time again. I often get asked about products I would recommend to someone who is heading to Trader Joe’s to pick up some healthier-for-you or point friendly options.. Many of these items have been featured on my blog. If there is a related post to an item listed, I will link that to the original posts review.  I will update this list as I find/try additional products that I enjoy.

But without further ado … come do a little shopping with me! Here are some of my Trader Joe’s favs/recommendations:

PRODUCE/BREADS:
Asparagus (fresh or trimmed package)
British Style Crumpets - Cinnamon
Broccoli Slaw (organic)
Brussel Sprouts
Fresh fruit (seriously, they have THE best apples, red grapes and nectarines etc)
Harvest Bagels (SEASONAL - WINTER) 
Multigrain Slims
Produce (I recommend purchasing their produce if you know prices of produce in your local shopping center)
Protein Power Chocolate Chunk Banana Muffins
Pumpkin Bagels (SEASONAL - FALL)
Trader Joe's The Bagel Spinoza Cinnamon Raisin Bagels
The Bagel Spinoza High Fiber Multi-Grain Bagels
The Bagel Spinoza The Works
Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin British Muffins

REFRIGERATED:
Bacon cheddar ranch dip
Balela
Beet Hummus

Chipotle Pepper Hummus
Chunky Artichoke & Jalapeno Dip 
Cilantro Salad Dressing
Coconut Creamer
Cold Pressed Juice - Watermelon
Feta Cheese Spread
Garlic Hummus
Greek Nonfat Yogurt Blueberry
Greek Nonfat Yogurt Coconut Cream
Greek Nonfat Yogurt Mango

Horseradish Hummus 
Jalapeno Greek Yogurt Dip
Kalamata Olive Hummus
Organic Pea Soup
Pork & Red Sauce Tamales
Pumpkin Nonfat Greek Yogurt (SEASONAL - FALL)
Three Layer Hummus
Very Green 100% Juice Smoothie
Wine Country Chicken Salad

BUTCHER (Meats):
All Natural Uncured Chicken Hot Dogs
Boneless Stuffed Pork Chops with Apple and Almond Stuffing
Carne Asada
Chicken sausages: Sweet Apple, Spicy Italian, Roasted Garlic 
Classic Sliced Dry Rubbed All Natural Uncured Bacon
Curry Chicken Tenders
Healthy Canadian Style Bacon
Irish Bangers [SEASONAL]
Peppercorn-Garlic Boneless Pork Tenderloin
Zesty Southwestern Style Stuffed Chicken Breast


PREPARED MEALS:
Chicken Asada
Chicken Breast Medallions with Coconut Red Curry Sauce
Chicken Marsala
Chicken Parmigiana with marinara sauce
Eggplant Parmesan Towers
Fully Cooked Season Pork Roast with Barbecue Sauce 
Grilled Balsamic Vinegar & Rosemary Chicken
Grilled Chicken Strips
Grilled Chicken Strips with Teriyaki Sauce
Low Fat Chinese Style Salad with Chicken
Stuffed Peppers with seasoned turkey & rice 
Traditional Meatloaf

FROZEN:
99% Fat Free Bean and Rice Burrito
Assorted Macarons
Bambino Pizza Formaggio
Battered Fish Nuggets
Beer Battered Onion Rings
Belgian Waffles
Berry Cherry Blend
Black Bean & Corn Enchilada
Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Wedges
Chicken Chow Mein
Chicken Cilantro Mini Wontons
Chicken Eggrolls
Chicken Fried Rice
Chicken Gyoza Potstickers
Chicken Shu Mai
Chickenless Crispy Tenders 
Chile Lime Chicken Burgers
Chimichuri Rice
Chinese Style Pork Buns Stir Fried Vegetable Rolls
Chocolate and Vanilla Macarons
Chocolate Croissants
Cookie Butter Cheesecake
Garden vegetable lasagna
Garlic Fries
Garlic Naan
Hold the Cone! Mini Chocolate Ice Cream Cones 
Hold The Cone! Mini Vanilla Ice Cream Cones
Kung Pao Chicken
Lemongrass Chicken Stix
Mandarin Orange Chicken
Mango & Cream Bars
Mashed Potatoes
Meatless Corn Dogs
Mini Beef Tacos
Mini Chicken Tamalitos
Penne Arrabbiata
Pizza Veggie Burgers
Pumpkin Pie Mochi Ice Cream
Reduced Guilt Mac & Cheese
Reduced Guilt Spinach & Cheese Stuffed Shells 
Roasted Vegetable Multi-Grain Lasagna
Scallion Pancake (Pa jeon)
Shepherd's Pie
'Spearean Risotto
Speculoos Cookie Butter Ice Cream
Spinach & Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
Stir-Fry Vegetables
Tempura Chicken with Sweet and Sour Sauce
Turkey Meatballs
Vegetable Fried Rice
Vegetable Massala Burger
Vegetable Melange
Vegetable Samosas
Zucchini Fries

SEASONINGS/PANTRY ITEMS:
Coconut oil spray
Everyday Seasoning
21 Season Salute

SAUCES:
Curry Simmer Sauce
Low fat marinara
Many clove garlic cooking & simmer sauce
Roasted Garlic Marinara

CONDIMENTS/NUT BUTTERS/FRUITS/SPREADS:
Cookie butter (original and crunchy)
Gourmet Fried Onion Pieces
Hot & Sweet Mustard
Hot & Sweet Pepper Jelly
Hot and Sweet Cherry Peppers 
Organic Sriracha and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce
Pumpkin Butter (SEASONAL - FALL)
Turkey Gravy
Yellow Cling Peach Halves

DRY/BOXED:

SNACKS:
100 Calorie Pack Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Amaretti Tradizionale Crispy Italian Amaretti Cookies [SEASONAL - WINTER] 
Baconesque White Cheddar Popcorn
Baked cheese crunchies
Baked Cheese Jalapeno Crunchies
Caramel Corn 
Cheddar & Horseradish Potato Chips
Chocolate Chip Brownie & Oats Bar
Coconut Bonbons

Cookie Thins Meyer Lemon
Crispy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Crunchy Black & White Rice Rolls – Lightly Sweetened
Dark Chocolote Covered Powerberries
Dark Chocolate filled with Speculoos Cookie Spread
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups 
Dilettante Fruit Medley
Dried Baby Sweet Pineapple
Five Seed Almond Bars
Hickory Barbeque Baked Potato Chips
Honey Roasted Peanuts
Milk Chocolate Crisps
Milk Chocolate Covered Potato Chips
Milk Chocolate filled with Caramel
Milk Chocolate Jumbles
Mini Cafe Twists
Mini Gingerbread Men (SEASONAL: WINTER)
Ode to the Classic Potato Chip
OH Pumpkin Caramel Kringle
Organic Milk Chocolate Truffle
Peanut Butter Cup Trax Mix
Peanutters
Petite Cocoa Batons
Pinachios
Popcorn in a Pickle [SEASONAL]
Reduced Fat Cheese Puffs
Reduced Guilt Kettle Cooked Potato Chips 
Reduced guilt pita chips
Reduced Guilt Wheat Crisps
Rolled Oats & Peanut Butter Fiberful Granola Bars
Salt Water Taffy (SEASONAL - SUMMER) 
Smashing S'mores
Soft & Juicy Mango
Sour cream and onion puffs 
Speculoos Cookies
Sunflower Seed Butter
This "Fig Walks Into a Bar" Cereal Bar
This "Pumpkin Walks Into a Bar" Cereal Bar [SEASONAL - FALL]
Triple Ginger Snaps
Valrhona LE Lait 29% Cacao Milk Chocolate [DISCONTINUED]

DESSERTS:

Trader Joe's Beer Battered Onion Rings

These Trader Joe's Beer Battered Onion Rings are frankly the best frozen onion rings I have ever had.  You can say that statement alone saying a lot!


In my opinion, most frozen onion rings are rather, well, disgusting, or if they're not, they're truly mediocre. These particular onion rings have stolen the show from the moment I've tried them because they are just plain delicious. They're crunchy, they're sweet, they're nicely battered.  They truly remind me of the onion rings I get at my local beach (which are dipped in a pancake batter and fried).  These give me that same flavor without all the added fat and calories.

To make these, I simply pray a nonstick baking sheet with cooking spray, layer out my onion rings and I spritz the top of them with spray.  As the bag suggests I bake them halfway through, then flip and cook an additional 7-10 minutes.  They come out nice and crispy, the onion inside the ring is plentiful, soft, sweet and not overpowering.  A little sprinkle of salt when they're done, a little ketchup to dip them in and I'm a happy camper!  They’ve been a continuous staple in my freezer since I first tried them.

A serving is 3 ounces (which usually means 5 rings), which is 140 calories or 4 points plus values.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

4 Year Healthiversary

4 years ago today, I decided I had enough. I was tired of hiding myself from the world, tired of punishing myself for being overweight, tired of being embarrassed to go to buy clothing merely because I had outgrown the clothes I had.  I was even more tired of being embarrassed to go out to eat because I’d always have to question if I’d be able to fit into the booth, or if the table could be pushed out so I could fit comfortably, or if people would watch my every move.. I was mortified to hear people whisper about my size or little kids look at me with wide eyes because I was so vastly overweight.

I knew I was overweight, I knew the world knew I as overweight. My family would try to gently approach the subject hoping it might push me in the right direction to put my health on the front burner instead of leaving it on the back one. But until you yourself want to make a change, it won’t happen.

I personally decided that I had to do something about my health and possibly impending health problems, so I found a local Weight Watchers meeting and walked in around 5:10pm on Thursday, February 25, 2010 and signed up. I knew I could lose weight (I was a WW member in the past) and I certainly knew I could try new things ... but did I know I would lose 180+ pounds after 4 years? I didn't. And that certainly amazes me every single day.

I'm proof that if you want something for YOURSELF bad enough, you'll do whatever it takes to get there. Is my journey done? Am I at my goal weight? No, it’s not and I'm not ... but I do know I will get there in time. This isn't a race, there is no finish line, and there are only milestones and goals to achieve. It certainly isn’t always easy, and there are times that things get real rough … but it is undoubtedly worth it in the end.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Harvestland Chicken Burgers



Harvestland Chicken Burgers are an item I would have probably never stumbled upon if it weren’t for Instagram. My local super Wal-Mart is constantly rearranging their frozen foods section and since then one needs a microscope to find anything that’s not a frozen dinner.  Since I’ve ventured into the frozen chicken/turkey burger realm, I’m always open to trying new burgers.

Harvestland chickens are raised with no antibiotics, have an all vegetarian diet and have no animal by-products. There are no hormones or steroids added and the burgers themselves are made with all natural ingredients.  Each chicken burger patty is ¼ pound. The great part about these burgers is they are uncooked and are seasoned. I like the fact that they are seasoned because chicken tends to be very plain and if it’s not seasoned, I find chicken has a distinct “chicken taste” for the lack of a better description. I did of course add a little burger seasoning to one side before cooking just to add an additional level of seasoning.

There are 6 burgers in each box, which the only downside is they come packaged with 3 burgers in a pouch. I was able to cook my burgers in a hot skillet straight out of the freezer. There was no need to defrost them and they cooked up evenly and perfectly in under 10 minutes. Even cooking them in a frozen state the burgers retained their moisture while cooking and were moist and delicious. I refrigerated the leftover cooked burgers and reheated the following day without the product quality degrading. Overall I was quite pleased with these burgers and will undoubtedly be purchasing them again.

They were perfect served on a light hamburger bun, with lettuce, tomato, ketchup and mustard.  Also thanks to the 22 grams of protein in each burger they are mighty filling. Winner, winner, chicken burger dinner!

Each burger is 150 calories or 3 points plus values.


Edy’s Slow Churned Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Sundae



Sometimes a person is just in the mood for some good hearty ice cream … and in my case, thatt is good hearty ice cream that’s slightly healthier for you.  Since I’ve introduced myself to Edy’s Slow Churned line (or Dreyer’s if that’s the side of the Rocky’s you’re on), I’ve had a pleasant time trying the different flavors that suit my fancy that the brand offers. It just so happened that Edy’s Slow Churned Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Sundae sounded delicious to me, so I picked it up one trip through the grocery store.

What sold me on this ice cream was merely the picture and the description printed on the container. “Chocolate ice cream with brownies, peanut butter ice cream with fudge swirls and chocolate ice cream with chocolate chips.” Chocolate and peanut butter surely can’t be a bad combination.  I mean, Reese’s have been in business how long? Admittedly, chocolate ice cream isn’t my favorite … but if peanut butter is involved in that chocolate ice cream, I’m pretty much sold because the two just pair together perfectly.

The ice cream itself is smooth and creamy. It’s sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. The chocolate ice cream is at the forefront, but the show stealer is undoubtedly the peanut butter ice cream, chocolate chips and brownie bits.  All aspects of the ice cream are noticeable and make for a deliciously tasty dessert/treat. A ½ cup serving is definitely enough to satisfy my sweet tooth and my craving for ice cream.

A serving is ½ cup which is 110 calories or 3 points plus values.

Joseph’s Flax Oat Bran & Whole Wheat Pita Bread

I have been a huge fan of Joseph’s bread products for as long as I can remember. Mediterranean food is big in my area and since I’ve grown up eating it, pita bread has been a staple that I reach for. Over the last year, I’ve been trying to eat more wheat based breads (with the exception of hamburger buns and light Italian bread). So when I spotted the Joseph’s Flax Oat Bran & Whole Wheat Pita Bread I decided to pick up a pack.

These particular pita breads are sold in 2 sizes – one is a larger round pita, whereas these are small “personal sized” pita bread. I have tried both varieties and I find I enjoy this particular type a lot more than the larger size. The pita is on the thinner side, but it is filling due to it being made up of oat bran and whole wheat, it also helps that each pita packs a punch with 5 grams of protein. If you’re used to classic white flour based pita breads, you’d undoubtedly notice a difference in taste … but once you are used to the wheat bread taste, it’s delicious. The one thing I love about these breads is they are so universal. They’re the perfect size to stuff a hamburger into, deli meat, tuna salad and they’re great for a personal sized salad pocket. They’re also standalone delicious for a personal sized pita bread pizza.

A serving is 1 pita which is 50 calories or 1 points plus value or you can have 2 pita breads for 100 calories or 2 points plus values.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Weight Watchers Ginger-Lime Bundt Cake



When I had picked up the new Weight Watchers Good Deal cookbook at my local Weight Watchers meeting, I had marked off a number of recipes that I wanted to try. One of the desserts I marked off to make was the Ginger-Lime Bundt Cake.  Since I had made another recipe which used lime and ginger, I had those two main ingredients on hand … so as a stress reliever one night I decided to bake and whip up a delicious specialty.

Prepping the cake took truly not much time at all.  I followed all directions as listed and baked my cake for the full 45 minutes. I was left with delicious perfection. My end result didn’t quite resemble the photograph in the book (the top of my cake puffed out and cracked a bit) instead of it being flat on top.

After my cake cooled, I drizzled the glaze over it and within 5 minutes it had set. The cake was definitely far moister the same day it was baked, whereas it was good, but a little drier the days following. Taste wise the cake is pretty delicious – it’s got a citrusy vanilla flavor to it and the ginger plays off perfectly with the other flavors without being overwhelming. I do have to say, when I saw the serving size I felt I would be a little jipped … but the cake is undoubtedly a dense, filling cake. It’s very reminiscent of a pound cake.

The cake itself serves 20 people and each slice is 181 calories or 5 points plus values. Well worth it, in my opinion!


Friday, February 21, 2014

Chicken Taco (Crock Pot)




A couple weeks ago I popped into Subway for lunch and noticed they had a new sandwich on the menu – a Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt. I ordered my typical black forest ham sandwich, but my mother ordered the Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt. Upon sitting down to eat out lunch she gave me a small piece to try … and I my taste buds were thoroughly amazed. So amazed that I wanted to try to recreate the dish at home in a way that was “point friendly” for me.

I knew going into it that it wouldn’t be exact … but if I could come close, it’d be a success.  And I have to say, it was pretty darn successful! I used taco seasoning and ranch seasoning over fajita seasoning. The meat mixture was flavorful and was perfect in a sandwich while the next day it was perfect over salad.

The closest I could come to Subway’s flat bread was to use Flatout Foldit’s. My local grocery store only had Flatout’s everything flavor in stock, so that’s what I used.  I picked up a bag of Frito’s and added just a few to my sandwich.  Whereas in classic Subway fashion, I chose to use my own toppings: pepper jack cheese lettuce and tomato.

Serves 8. 4 Points Plus Values. 2/3 cup serving.
Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds raw boneless chicken breast, trimmed of fat
  • 1 medium uncooked onion, sliced
  • 1 medium (or 2 small) uncooked bell peppers, sliced
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp McCormick Montreal Steak seasoning
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 packet ranch dressing seasoning
  • 1 cup Chi Chi’s Salsa, medium
Add onions and peppers to the bottom of a crock pot. Place the chicken breast over the vegetables. Sprinkle with steak seasoning, garlic powder, taco seasoning and ranch dressing seasoning. Top with salsa – cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours or low for 8-9 hours.

After about an hour of cooking stir together all ingredients and allow cooking down together.

When the dish is done, turn off the crock pot and remove the chicken from the pot. Place chicken on a plate and shred with two forks. Return shredded chicken to the crock pot and stir to combine with the vegetables and sauce.

Allow to cool for roughly 20 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken a tad before serving.



Thursday, February 20, 2014

Weight Watchers Smart Ones Fire Roasted Vegetable Soup

I’m typically not a person who reaches for soup on a cold day, but lately my taste buds have been gravitating towards soups/stews.  So while the weather has been less than stellar in my area, I decided to try out one of the frozen Smart Ones soups I had tucked away in my freezer.

I have tried vegetable soups in the past, and for the most part they’re not usually my “forte” because of the tomato base. So that thought in the back of my mind was the main reason I held off on giving this soup a try sooner. I heated the soup in the microwave per the directions and enjoyed this along with my dinner.

I have to say … the soup is pretty darn good! Although with the name “fire roasted vegetables” I assumed that simply meant vegetables that have been charred over an open flame. Well … that’s the case in one aspect, but “fire” in this instance also means this soup is spicy! I certainly wasn’t expecting the heat but it ultimately made the soup that much more delicious. It certainly wasn’t that plain ole tomato base that I’m not a big fan of.

Each bowl is 60 calories or 1 points plus value.

Chobani Flip Key Lime Crumble



When Chobani Flips started popping up on my local grocery store shelves, I in turn started seeing them posted all over social media outlets. I admit, I was intrigued by some of the flavor options but in a way, talked myself out of purchasing right away because in the past I have found Chobani Greek yogurts to be a lot sourer than my taste buds enjoy. I admit, I had found a few flavored Chobani yogurts that I enjoyed, but overtime even those began to make my face pucker.

Just recently while at the store, I spotted the Chobani Flip Key Lime Crumble which is the flavor I initially wanted to try first but couldn’t find. This particular flip is a delicious blend of key lime low-fat yogurt which comes with a side of graham crackers and white chocolate bits. The yogurt itself is mildly sour on its own, but once the graham crackers and white chocolate bits are folded into the yogurt it becomes a deliciously yummy experience. All the flavors blend together perfectly and make for a scrumptious breakfast, snack, or even a dessert.  Way to go, Chobani!

A container is 180 calories or 5 points plus values.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Limited Edition Marshmallow Crispy Oreo’s

A couple weeks ago I popped into the grocery store simply to pick a few things up that I needed. On my way up to the cash registers I caught a glimpse of an Oreo display and did a double take. Initially I thought they were the limited edition lemon Oreo’s but upon closer inspection I realized they were the brand new Limited Edition Marshmallow Crispy Oreo’s.

I was anticipating the release of these so I made sure to bring them home with me for a little taste testing and sharing with family/friends. I’m a fan of marshmallow crispy treats and I happen to quite enjoy the golden Oreo line so I had high hopes for these. What I have to say is unique about this line is that the frosting has gritty bits of crispy bits in it.  The bits certainly don’t make it as crispy/chewy as original marshmallow treats, but it certainly gives it a different texture, but it’s not overwhelmingly noticeable. Flavor wise these cookies are definitely sweet … I find one is quite enough, but if I’m really in a sweet/cookie mood two is all I need and/or can handle. They taste more vanilla than marshmallow … but nonetheless they are a nice different treat.  The effect is more “profound” if you pull one side of each cookie off and push the cream sides together to make a double stuffed cookie.

A serving is 2 cookies which are 140 calories or 4 points plus (2 points plus/cookie).

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Cauliflower Pizza



I have heard so much about cauliflower pizza but was always a little skeptical. The typical gist when it first became an internet sensation was that the crust wasn’t crunchy enough. So I waited … and I finally found a recipe that I decided I’d give a try.  I changed up the recipe just a tad because I used what I had on hand and seasoned it a bit more with what I liked.

For the most part I followed the general recipe except I used reduced fat parmesan and did my own blend of spices within the pizza crust.

The most tedious part of this pizza was cutting up the cauliflower and pulverizing it in the food processor. Then again, I have a little peanut of a food processor so I had to do small little handfuls at a time. But once that was done, it was easy-peasy. Cooking the cauliflower in the microwave and straining the water out of it was simple. Although I will say, trying to get little rice size bits of cauliflower off a white kitchen towel was an interesting feat.  The greatest part?

The ENTIRE crust alone was only 8 points plus values! If the serving is cut down into 2, half the crust is 4 points plus values. Quite a drop in stats considering the calories/Weight Watchers points plus associated with pizza crust!  Here’s how I doctored my crust up a bit:

Ingredients:
-          ¼ cup reduced fat parmesan cheese
-          ¼ cup shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese
-          1 egg, beaten
-          1 small head uncooked cauliflower
-          ½ tsp salt
-          ½ tsp black pepper
-          1 ½ tsp garlic powder
-          1 tsp oregano
-          ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

When the crust was done I decided to top the pizza with ½ cup Barilla traditional spaghetti sauce (because it’s what I had on hand), 1/3 cup Kraft fat free mozzarella, 6 slices of Hormel turkey pepperoni, a few slices onions and peppers and some banana pepper rings. I returned the pizza to the oven just for the cheese to melt and when done, I cut it up to serve.

After all the toppings my entire pizza was 11 points plus values! Quite a steal considering 1 slice of your average take-out pizza is 7 points plus values.

Final verdict? The pizza was quite good … the crust wasn’t as crispy and crunchy as regular pizza crust and you could definitely tell it was cauliflower but it wasn’t bad.  Would I make it again? Sure, thing.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Garlic Naan Pizza

I originally purchased Trader Joe’s Garlic Naan after seeing it posted on Instagram (see that post here). Around that same time, I started seeing garlic naan pizza from a fellow instagrammer who has as much of a love for Trader Joe’s as I do.  That of course imprinted on my brain and I had wanted to try it since.  I finally got around to planning having garlic naan pizza … and having garlic naan pizza I did!

I always fawn over DiGiornio’s garlic bread pizza but now I can have my own version at home which is far less guilty – plus it can be personalized however I want it. Another great part is that my little personal pizza is done in a matter of minutes after a trip into the toaster oven.  So how did I assemble my pizza?

1 frozen garlic naan, 2 tbsp pizza sauce (I used Trader Joe’s), 1/3 oz Kraft fat free mozzarella, 4 slices Hormel turkey pepperoni, and a few sautéed peppers and onions. Delicious, simple and only 5 points plus values!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cracker Barrel Grilled Chicken Tenderloin Dinner

It has been years since I have been to Cracker Barrel. Truthfully when I hear the words “Cracker Barrel” I automatically think southern style comfort foods which are not the healthiest choices.  Considering I haven’t been to the restaurant in ages, I pulled up their menu online and I have to say I was surprised they had healthier options available.  The one downside is they do not offer nutrition information on their website.  Although, thankfully Weight Watchers has a handful of the restaurants foods listed on their website/app with the associated points plus values.

I decided to order the Grilled Chicken Tenderloin Dinner which comes with 6 marinated grilled chicken tenderloins along with your choice of 3 sides. After scanning over the available side dishes, I opted to go with a side garden salad with fat free honey mustard dressing, a baked sweet potato and steamed broccoli.

The salad was served first and was a classic mix of mixed greens. The salad dressing was of course the show stealer and was exceptionally delicious. When my entrée was served I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised at how good the grilled chicken tenderloin was! Typically I am very picky when it comes to getting chicken at restaurants – it’s either too rubbery, not cooked/seasoned to my liking, etc. But this was perfect. Aside from the few pieces of grizzle I found (only because I truly dissect my food when I eat), it was out of this world and the marinade that was used was fabulous. The sweet potato was delicious – cooked perfectly and the broccoli was steamed just right. The meal was flavorful, delicious and overall filling.

I actually enjoyed the meal so much that next time I go back to Cracker Barrel; it’ll be the exact meal I order.  The chicken tenderloin was 6 points plus, the salad dressing was 1 points plus, and I guestimated the sweet potato to be 3 points plus (it could have been 2, but I’d rather aim higher than lower).

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

McDonald’s Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken

While running a bunch of errands I was away from the house initially a lot longer than I anticipated. When my stomach started grumbling I realized it was well past lunch-time and I needed to eat something before a case of hangry set in. So pulling into McDonald’s parking lot, I parked my car and pulled up my Weight Watchers app on my phone. To avoid just ordering whatever sounded tasty on the menu I looked thru the menu on my phone for something that was point comfortable and ultimately decided on the McDonald’s Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken.

The salad itself is served as McDonald’s salads typically are – mixed greens and shaved carrots. It’s presented alongside fire-roasted corn, black beans, roasted tomatoes and poblano peppers, cheddar and jack cheese, chile-lime tortilla chips, and grilled chicken all alongside a fresh lime wedge. The salad is a pretty decent size, is pretty to look at due to the vibrant colors and is mighty tasty and filling. The salad has a little bit of spice to it, but there’s nothing overwhelming or uncomfortable about it.

The salad typically is served with Newman’s Own Southwest Dressing but I find that to be a little spicier than I prefer my dressing to be … so I opted to go with the Newman’s Own Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette. Drizzling about ¼ of the package over my salad, I found it to be more than enough.

The salad with grilled chicken is 290 calories or 7 points plus values. With my choice of dressing my whole meal was 8 points plus values. Quite worth it for lunch out on the go!

Trader Joe’s Chocolate Croissants

Whenever I’ve been in Trader Joe’s I’ve noticed one of their decadent desserts in the freezer section, but had always passed it by … until I finally bit the bullet and purchased the Trader Joe’s Chocolate Croissants. Low and behold I’m not sure why I ever waited so long.

The croissants are sold packaged in a box of 4 and are housed in the freezer section of Trader Joe’s.  They are certainly a dish one must plan to have because the croissants have to be placed onto a baking sheet to proof for 9-hours. I decided to sit them out overnight and I baked them off the following morning. The croissants have to be placed pretty far apart from one another because they do balloon do nearly triple the size when thawed and fully proofed. Since my oven is on steroids my croissants baked up to a fabulous brown color in 13 minutes.

I transferred the cooked croissants to a dish and allowed them to cool. A few hours after they were done I enjoyed one and they’re perfect. They’re flaky, soft, chocolaty and totally delicious. They’re rather decadent and one of the best chocolate croissants I have ever had (I want to be honest and say I do not have a local bakery/restaurant that sells homemade croissants so I’ve always had packaged chocolate croissants). They’re good the following day as well … although they’re at their peak of freshness anywhere from after baking to 4-hours into cooling.  Admittedly, they are that good that I’ve purchased another box to tuck away in the freezer!

Each croissant is 320 calories or 9 points plus values.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Eating Out @ The Chateau

I was asked if I’d be interested in picking up dinner at a local restaurant, The Chateau (if you’re unfamiliar it is an Italian restaurant). I knew what I would have ordered in the past (chicken parm with fried ravioli) but since I don’t just order impulsively anymore, I pulled up the menu on my phone. Browsing through it I noticed the restaurant had an “Under 598 calories” menu option. It intrigued me so I took a peek … and turned out that one dish in particular really stuck out to me.

Granted, I was in the mood for sirloin so sirloin is what I ordered. The great part is the menu gave the sirloin weight pre-grilling, which meant it would seemingly shrink 2-3 ounces on the grill which was exactly the case. Unfortunately my steak was cooked wrong (I wanted medium-well, I was served medium & since my order was a to-go order I couldn’t have it cooked to enjoy at once) so I took 2 bites of my steak and packaged the rest up to bring home to finish cooking off.

I ordered a side garden salad with Low Fat Zinfandel Vinaigrette as well as the grilled sirloin steak (8 oz – raw) alongside fresh grilled vegetables. Screw up aside while cooking – the meal itself was delicious.

Meatball & Pepperoni Pita Pizza

This is a special little treat I had made for myself for nearly half a week. I was in the mood for pizza, but since I was trying to be “good” and not order out pizza I decided to make some healthier pita bread pizzas for myself.  They turned out to be delicious, extremely low in points and nailed the pizza want on the head.

I used 2 Joseph’s Flax Oat Bran & Whole Wheat Pita Breads and between the two bases topped it with ¼ cup canned tomato sauce that I doctored up with a bit of spices (salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic, Italian seasoning). I then divided out 1/3 cup of Kraft Fat Free Shredded Mozzarella and topped each pizza. I had some thick cut turkey pepperoni in the fridge so I took 2 slices (0pp) and cut it into quarters and topped each pizza. I then took 1 Trader Joe’s Turkey Meatball and cut it up into pieces and topped my pizzas with it. Since I enjoy my pizza with veggies I cut up some red onion and sprinkled it over the top.

I popped the pizzas in a 350 degree oven for roughly 8-10 minutes and took them out when the bread was crispy. They were perfect, tasty and delicious. Plus they were a guilt-free 5 points plus values! 3 for the pita, 1 for the meatball and 1 for the cheese.

Winner winner, pizza dinner!