Saturday, January 31, 2015

Cheez-It Crunch'd - Cheddar Cheese

Popping through Target one afternoon I spotted and picked up the new Cheez-It Crunch'd Cheddar Cheese puffs. I love Cheez-Its ... probably a little too much, so when I spotted these at Target I was intrigued. Ideally in my mind it would be what a marriage between a Cheez-It and a cheese puff would be. Potential score ...
The product is sold in Cheddar Cheese flavor as well as in a Hot & Spicy (tabasco flavoring). I opted to play it safe and go with the classic cheddar cheese as I wasn't sure as to how spicy the hot and spicy may actually be.

Opening the bag up they look like enlarged Cheez-Its that are puffy with little holes in the middle. Eating a few they kind of taste like a Cheez-It but they also taste like a cheese puff but not as cheesy. They're unique and different at first. Although, I found with the first few they were okay, rather interesting, but after about 7 or so you start to get this "oil" flavor that is just NOT there with regular Cheez-Its. Cheez-Its are normally baked so the foreign oily flavor in the background is a bit stomach churning when you're not expecting it.  Or perhaps it's just my super sensitive taste buds that don't eat a lot of oil based foods. I guess you win some and you lose some ...

A serving is 1 ounce is 4 points plus values

Target Exercise Equipment Haul

Target has this wonderful $1-$3 section in their store that constantly pulls me in. One day while browsing through the store I spotted some exercise equipment. I know, you're probably thinking, exercise equipment in the dollar section? Yeah, I know ... but my coworkers and I are working on being more active at work since we have stationary jobs where we REALLY don't move much.
The yoga mat is thin, but it'll be perfect to lay on the floor in my cubicle and do some stretching exercises. It'd be great for my back since siting all day long does nothing for your frame. I'm not a yoga buff ... but I can pull some moves off Pinterest and give them a try.
Now the thing I'm most excited about is the weighted jump rope. I haven't jumped rope since I was a kid. In my kettlebell class a few weeks ago, my instructor did stations, where we worked on different exercises for a minute. One of those stations involved jumping rope and I found it to be so much fun. It's such a great way to burn calories without even realizing how much benefit you're getting out of it. Granted, I won't be able to do it in my cubicle ... but once this snow is off the ground I can begin doing so outside in my yard or even in the parking lot at work during the spring/summer/fall.
They also had little 3 lb kettlebells and weights for sale ... but I'm more of a 5-12 pound dumbbell and 12KG kettlebell person at the moment.
Not a bad investment for a whopping $6!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Trader Joe's Mini Beef Taco's

I have seen the Trader Joe's Mini Beef Taco's time and time again while shopping at my local Trader Joe's. I love taco's (I don't believe I know a person who doesn't) so I felt ... who couldn't love mini tacos?! I thought they'd be a great appetizer whenever guests were over or even as a meal paired with a salad and perhaps another protein.
After not having a clear idea of what to have for dinner one night I decided to pull these out of the freezer to whip up as a quick and easy dinner for a few folks. I sprayed non-stick cooking spray on a baking sheet, layered on the frozen tacos, gave them a light spritz of cooking spray and popped them into the oven per packaging directions.
Taking them out of the oven, I found the taco shells them self were crispy but not overly. The filling was hot ... and they kind of reminded me of taco (that's not to healthy) at a local fast food restaurant. Tasting them they're pretty good ... they're filled with what looks like a shredded beef mixture which has that classic taco flavor but not being spicy or bland. The taco shells provide a bit of a crunch while still maintaining a chewy quality.
They're good on their own while I also enjoyed them alongside a chopped salad with a side of salsa. They're a fun little finger food which tasty. I wouldn't say these would fill you up, but if you have decent and filling sides with them you should be good to go.
A serving, 4 mini tacos, is 190 calories or 5 points plus values.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Beef and Bean Chili

Chili is one of those comfort foods that I remember growing up eating. Once fall rolls around chili season is in and it stays until spring begins. It's one of those dishes that I truly enjoy because it's versatile, filling and a family favorite.  What I think I like best about chili is the fact you can transform it without really doing much work. You can change up the meat, beans, vegetables, etc. Then you can eat it as is, over rice, with cheese/sour cream, with pasta, stuffed into bell peppers, etc. The possibilities are truly endless ... and at the end of the day it's comforting.

This particular dish is my basic chili recipe - the one I use regardless of what type of ground meat I'm using. I have changed up the vegetables, adding/subtracting ingredients .. but this is my tried and true.

Serves 9. 1 cup serving. 4 Points Plus Values.

* 1 1/8 lb 93% lean ground beef
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 1 medium bell pepper, chopped (red or green - your choice)
* 14.5 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained (you can substitute for any bean of your choice)
* 14.5 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained (you can substitute for any bean of your choice)
* 28 oz can Hunts Tomatoes, Crushed
* 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
* 2 tbsp minced garlic
* 3 tbsp chili powder
* 3 tsp ground cumin
* 1 tsp black pepper
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 tsp garlic powder
* 1 1/2 tsp ground oregano
* 3/4 cup water
In a large pan with high sides, spray pan with non-stick cooking spray, heating over medium-high heat. Add in ground beef and begin to brown, seasoning with salt and pepper. As  the meat begins to brown, add in onion, bell peppers and garlic. Mixing to combine, allow the mixture to cook until the beef is cooked through and the onions are softened and slightly translucent.
Sprinkle meat and vegetable mix with chili powder, garlic powder, cumin and oregano. Stir to combine, allowing the natural oils from the seasonings to come to life.
Add in drained beans, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes and water. Stirring until all ingredients are well combined.  Adjust seasonings where necessary.
Allow chili to simmer over medium-low heat for 30-45 minutes.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Chuao Maple Bacon Chocolate Bar

While making a quick lunch time grocery run I finally spotted the Chuao Maple Bacon Chocolate Bar. I have been looking for this chocolate bar for ages, because it seems like every store that carries Chuao never has the bacon one. I've heard great things about bacon mixed with chocolate (or maple flavoring) so I was quite intrigued.
What sold me was the description of the product on the packaging, "crisp bacon, delicate maple sweetness and bonfire smoked sea salt, bathed in milk chocolate". Bacon and chocolate? I mean ... really ... how can one go wrong? The bar itself really did not let me down.
I found the chocolate was smooth and creamy while giving that classic milk chocolate flavor. The bacon pieces are very small, almost finely milled crunchy pieces of bacon. It wasn't overly salty or smokey, but it did provide a very subtle flavoring which complimented the milk chocolate. There are not big pieces of bacon that you have to chew through, but the flavor and slight texture from the bacon is there and it's evident.
I found that half of a single serving was more than enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. After that I ended up sharing it with 2 other folks for them to experience the maple bacon chocolate treat.
A serving is 1.4 oz (half the bar) which is 210 calories or 6 points plus values.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Trader Joe's Oven Ready Breaded Cod Fillets

Every once in a while I'm in the mood for fish. I'm not a seafood buff but I do like an occasional piece of fried fish. Since I don't like having fried foods very often, I typically resort to the frozen fish department in Trader Joe's to see what might be available. One afternoon I spotted the Trader Joe's Oven Ready Breaded Cod Fillets and decided to give them a shot.
Usually I go for haddock because I'm a white fish kind of gal, but since I have had fried cod in the past I figured eh, why not? The fillets are pretty decent in size and cooking is a breeze. All I do is spray a little non-stick spray in a baking pan, place my fish in the pan and top the fillets with a spray of non-stick cooking spray. I pop them into the oven and bake per package directions and once done they come out cooked to perfection with a nice crunchy crust. I definitely don't miss the extra frying with this because it gives it that nice crunch with fried fish dishes.
The fish is nice and flaky without that fish taste. It's very mild and pairs perfectly with a little homemade tartar sauce on the side.  The one downside I found was that the skin was on some fillets, which made the picky eater in me shudder and pick apart the fish - giving the skinned pieces of fish to my dogs. That alone was a downer because it would be a perfect fish dish for the picky fish eaters. Although, if you can get past the skin in a fillet here or there - these are quite good and filling.
A 5.3 oz serving (typically 2 fillets) is 280 calories or 7 points plus values.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Trader Joe's Organic Pea Soup

I was quite intrigued when I noticed Trader Joe's was carrying some pre-made soups which were in the refrigerator section instead of in the canned good aisle. I was even more intrigued when I spotted and picked up the Trader Joe's Organic Pea Soup. Thanks to giving into old "childhood food fears" I learned that I really love pea soup so if I can find a convenient version to have whenever the mood strikes, it's a win for me.
Ideally the pea soup I'm used to has bits of ham in it, but this is a vegetarian/vegan version. But what sold me the most was the fact that this soup is very thick. I've had pea soups in the past where they're a little on the runnier side and that's just not enjoyable. This is night, thick and hearty while having a bit of texture to it. It's undoubtedly a step in the right direction if you've tried the canned version of this soup in store (you can see that review here).
I find it's difficult to really explain how pea soup tastes. If you've had it before, you know the flavor. It's peas ... it's carrots ... and it's whatever flavoring you put into it. Since there's no meat it's straight peas with slight sweetness from the carrots. It's very good and pleasing on the pallet.  Definitely one of my favorite pea soups that I have tried (outside of homemade).
A serving, 8 oz/227 g, is 90 calories or 2 points plus values.

Trader Joe's Taco Shells

I love tacos ... but there aren't many taco shells on the market that I find to be worth it. I've heard how fabulous the Trader Joe's Taco Shells are but I've bypassed them from time to time. Finally my store had them in stock so I made sure to pick up a box to give a whirl.
What I found to be the most intriguing about the taco shells from the box alone is that they're made from organic stone ground yellow corn. I've heard people rave about these taco shells but I've always thought a taco shell is a taco shell. Well ... that's not quite true. I love my nacho flavored taco shells, but these particular shells are fabulous! They get nice and crunchy, while also providing a little bit of chewiness when the shell is stuffed with taco meat and toppings. They hold up nicely, don't fall apart and are a perfect taco shell. They're fresh and flavorful ... definitely my favorite taco shell to date. You can heat them prior to eating or you can eat them straight out of the box (if you're eating straight out of the box allow the filling to 'heat' the shell a bit and it'll give it a little more chew).

A serving, 2 shells, is 130 calories or 3 points plus values.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Olivia's Organics Spring Mix with Herbs

My coworker actually introduced me to this Olivia's Organics Spring Mix with Herbs and I have to say, I'm glad she did. I've bought the Olivia's spring mix in the past and it was okay for a shake up from the normal salad ... but the combination with the herbs far out-seeds the original and has slid its way into my favorite prepackaged salad.
The salad is a mixture of your average salad greens (Tango, Lolla Rosa, Red & Green Romaine, Red & Green Oak, Red & Green Chard, Spinach, Mizuna, Radicchio, Frisee, Beet Greens, Arugula, Tat-Soi, Red Mustard) which is then mixed with flavorful herbs (Dill & Parsley). The parsley and dill give the salad a fresh flavor which is a wonderful addition to any salad (or even a sandwich). The mixture is wonderful and I find a little feta cheese sprinkled over the salad and herbs gives it a nice kick which brings the flavor of the greens out more.
I've had it straight out of the container and added to a salad bowl while I've also mixed it with some chopped romaine, sliced carrot, red onion and cherry tomatoes. Either way it's a winner in my book!
A serving, 2 cups, is 10 calories or 0 points plus values.

Trader Joe's The Bagel Spinoza The Works

There are occasions where I'm in a bagel mood. Not a bagel thin mood ... a "real bagel" mood. A fellow Weight Watchers on Instagram had told me about the Trader Joe's The Bagel Spinoza The Works bagels and I decided to hunt them down. I mean, I've seen them every time I go to Trader Joe's ... but I never picked them up because I've always been intrigued by the different types of bagels available.
These everything bagels are your classic, thick, slightly chewy and fluffy bagel.  They're loaded with flavor and quite satisfying. They're not as chewy as some other bagels I have had, but they're delicious and perfect to pair with a breakfast meal, or even as an addition to a lunch time sandwich.
The bagels crisp up perfectly, while providing a subtly soft center. They're airy while having enough weight to them to be filling and satisfying. They're not the most fabulous everything bagel I've had but they are good ... plus if I can shave a points plus value off by having something I genuinely enjoy it's a win-win for me.
As with Trader Joe's bread products, I would suggest storing these in the refrigerator if you're not going to eat them all up before the date on the bag.
Each bagel is 230 calories or 6 points plus values.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Yoplait Greek 100 Calorie Whips - Vanilla Cupcake

When I heard about the new Greek Whips I knew I had to go on the hunt for them. After asking a few folks where they found them, I made it a priority to pop by a local grocery store which is about 15 minutes away from my house. Low and behold I landed upon the mother load ... and in turn picked up the Yoplait Greek 100 Calorie Whips - Vanilla Cupcake.
I initially grabbed 2 of this flavor not knowing what it would taste like. I mean ... hello, have we met? I am a cupcake connoisseur, so of course I was game from the get go. Opening it up and giving it a try I was quite intrigued. After trying it ... I can honestly say it's pure vanilla and no cupcake, not even a hint of cupcake.
The texture is what I would call a cross between cool whip and yogurt. The texture actually reminds me of cool whip when I mix a package of sugar free pudding into it. Sort of that airy, flavored cream that's light but unique. It doesn't have the natural "heaviness" that comes with Greek yogurt and is very light. The bonus part? The cup serves up a fabulous 9 grams of protein.
A serving is 100 calories or 2 points plus values.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Weight Watchers Oat Clusters with Cherries and Almonds

When I heard that Weight Watchers was coming out with their own brand of breakfast cereal ... I was quite intrigued. I enjoy cereal on an occasion, but I also enjoy it as a little added crunch/treat to go alongside my Greek yogurt (little parfait action!). I had not seen them in stores anywhere ... until one day I passed through a local Hannaford grocery store and found a shelf full.
Scanning the available options, I decided to go with the Weight Watchers Oat Clusters with Cherries and Almonds. The cereal reminded me of a Honey Bunches of Oats but with cherries in the mix. Upon opening it and trying it ... my initial thought was correct. The cereal itself is good. Flakes of cereal, with sliced almond pieces and chunks of dried cherries throughout it. It's quite delicious - it provides a crunch, chewiness (from the cherries) and sweetness.
I will say, it wasn't entirely satisfying. It's your average cereal, packaged in a Weight Watchers carton. It's good, but there isn't a whole lot to it to make it a perfect breakfast. It's good over yogurt for some added crunch. But I found that at times it turned into a "trigger food" due to the sweetness of it.
A serving, 3/4 cup, is 120 calories or 3 points plus values.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Al Fresco Breakfast Chicken Sausage - Country Style

Since joining Weight Watchers Al Fresco has become one of my brands of choice. Admittedly, anytime I see new Al Fresco products at the grocery store I have to give them a try. That's just when the Al Fresco Breakfast Chicken Sausage - Country Style jumped into my grocery cart.
I cooked the sausages per box directions to include with my prepped breakfast meals. As with any frozen sausage link they took truly no time to brown them and get up to temperature. Steaming them with a little bit of water helped cook the sausages through and then allowed them to get nice coloring on the outside of the links.

Flavor wise, they taste just like a pork breakfast sausage would. Al Fresco certainly flavors the links well enough that they don't lack in flavor and they do not scream "I'm chicken!" They've got a wonderful flavor, they've got a moistness to them and they're wonderful on their own or alongside some scrambled eggs.

A serving, 2 sausage links, is 80 calories or 2 points plus values.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Trader Joe's Maple Walnut Blondies

I have seen the Trader Joe's Maple Walnut Blondies time and time again ... but I've refrained from purchasing them because I could only imagine how delicious they'd be. Of course I was shopping with my mother at the time, who saw them and wanted to try them ... so they ended up in the grocery cart.  I figured since there was another party who wanted them it would be less temptation since I wouldn't be the only one eating them.
I'm a brownie fan to the core, but blondies are one of those treats I usually only have if another person makes them. Not sure why, but it's always been that way.
Opening the package up and taking out a blondie you can immediately notice the moistness to them. They're firm but softer in texture, the maple is undoubtedly noticeable and the walnuts give it a slight crunch to balance off the whole textural experience. They are sweet ... sweet enough that I found I could easily share a brownie with another party and feel satisfied. But they're also sweet enough that if you don't have someone to share them with you can eat the whole thing before you realize it.
They're undoubtedly delicious and a perfect sweet snack to cure any sweet tooth. If you really like maple flavor and you love brownies .. then you'd undoubtedly love these. If you're not a fan of maple ... steer clear because it doesn't lack in the maple goodness department.

A blondie is 290 calories or 8 points plus values.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Trader Joe's Amaretti Tradizionale Crispy Italian Amaretti Cookies

With the Christmas season comes "giftable snacks" and one of those snacks that caught my eye was the Trader Joe's Amaretti Tradizionale Crispy Italian Amaretti Cookies. From the package they reminded me of a cookie I like to get at my local Italian bakery every once in a while. Of course it's slightly different, but the flavor is dead on.
What I liked most was that these cookies are individually wrapped. They're in a wax paper type wrapper which when removed, you're left with a cookie which is wrapped in a sealed plastic wrapper.  This is one of the greatest things because it's portion controlled without me having to do really anything but grab a single package. The cookie is crisp and crunchy, but it's not a break your tooth type of crunchy.

Flavor wise it's got an upfront sweetness to it. They remind me of the "cherry macaroons" I get at my local Italian bakery (they're like a slightly coconut/vanilla cookie that's sweet that has a little dollop of cherry flavoring on top - they're not your average macaroon). Sometimes it's sweet enough that one cookie is all I need to satisfy that sweet tooth. Or sometimes I can have a serving with a nice cup of tea/coffee. They are a cookie that I can enjoy straight out of the package, or dunked in a little bit of coffee to soften it up just a tad. They're great and I quite enjoy them for a little treat here and there.

A serving, 3 cookies, is 160 calories or 4 points plus values.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Glenny's 100 Calorie Peanut Butter Brownies

I discovered the Glenny's brand of snacks when the vending machine company brought in some "healthy treats" as samples. One of the samples was the Glenny's chocolate chip brownie. Interested in the brand I decided to purchase a box online since I could not find them in stores. Since the original was delicious I figure the peanut butter would be even better .. so I ordered a box of the Glenny's 100 Calorie Peanut Butter Brownies.
Now, brownies are one of those dessert foods that I love. There's nothing better than that chocolatey, fudgy deliciousness. The only downside is that a serving size is rather small for the jam packed amount of calories/points plus values in them.  What I like the most about these brownies is that they're individually wrapped, they're a perfect size (larger than your average brownie serving) and are jam packed with flavor. The brownies have an element of fudginess to them while the little peanut butter morsels running throughout it give you that smooth peanut butter flavor.
They are perfect as a little snack on their own ... while they'd pair perfectly with some whipped cream and fresh fruit, or even some light ice cream/frozen yogurt for a little healthier take in a brownie sundae. They're perfect because they suit the chocolate fix while also cure the snacky craving.
A package is a serving, which is 100 calories or 2 points plus values.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Dannon Light & Fit Greek Apple Cinnamon

Putzing around Target one afternoon I noticed they had a new 4-pack of Dannon Greek yogurt. Since I'm a Greek yogurt buff I picked up a pack of Dannon Light & Fit Greek Apple Cinnamon yogurt.
I've tried apple pie greek yogurts in the past and they've all faired pretty well with me ... but I was intrigued by the whole apple cinnamon vibe. Truthfully, it held up to its name. The yogurt is moderately thick while being seasoned with cinnamon (liberally, not overwhelmingly so) with having little pieces of apple here and there throughout the yogurt. It's delicious and a perfect blend of the two flavors.
It's very much your staple apple pie greek yogurt, with a touch more cinnamon to allow you to enjoy the natural cinnamon flavor. I enjoy it most on its own, while also over a small apple that'd been chopped up, sprinkled with a touch of cinnamon and microwaved for under a minute to soften them a bit.

A serving is 80 calories or 2 points plus values.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Trader Joe's Beet Hummus

Beets are one of my favorite vegetables. I love them in salad, on the side with my dinner or just as a simple little snack. Needless to say when I spotted the Trader Joe's Beet Hummus I was immediately intrigued and had to incorporate it into my week.

Due to the sheer deep purple shade to the hummus I believed 1) you'd have to undoubtedly love beets to enjoy it and 2) you'd have to really love hummus/chick peas in order to enjoy this. Upon first taste that theory was very much true. The hummus is blended with with fresh beets - while there are little diced up pieces on top of the hummus mixture for some added flare/texture.
Texture wise it's slightly "gritty" and not as smooth as traditional hummus. While there is a slight graininess to the dish, it is thinner in consistency. It's not runny, but it's certainly not as thick as your traditional or even flavored hummus dishes. I enjoyed the hummus alongside a protein-filled salad. Delicious and quite unique!

A serving, 2 tablespoons, is 45 calories or 1 points plus values.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Welcome 2015 …

With the start of 2015 there come many resolutions. I’ve never been one to make a resolution. I’ve always been the type that if I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it regardless of the date, day, or beginning of a new year.

I’m not making a resolution, but I am saying to myself that it’s time to take control and make myself #1 at all times throughout this year. That means, removing toxic people from my life, distancing myself from negativity as well as the folks spreading said negativity and always making time for myself without rearranging my plans or putting myself on the back burner to (unnecessarily) help others out of the whirlwind some put themselves into. More than half of 2014 was filled with making others a priority and disregarding plans I had made for myself. A good portion of the year the gym was a distant memory for months on end (but I can proudly state I’ve been active at the gym for 20-weeks in a row!!), food prep was merely an on the fly scenario (which thankfully I now designate Sunday’s as meal prep day) and I allowed others to cast their negative energy into my life and alter my emotional state.

But now a little back story ….

2013 was a rough year for me. I had surgery in April and spent the rest of 2013 trying to recover from that surgery (in case you aren’t aware, I had abdominal surgery and woke up without being able to move my left arm/shoulder, was walking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, was on total restrictions from my doctor & spent over 7 months in physical therapy). On top of that toward the end of 2013 I was laid off from my job. I then spent a quarter of 2014 still trying to recover (still today, I’m not 100% but I’m better than I have been). I started working the 2nd quarter of 2014 and I made the decision to get back into the gym. It wasn’t easy at first and it has taken a lot of modifications but I’m stronger than I have been. I know that it’s going to take more time and dedication to get full strength back but the more I work, the better I get.

2014 also brought a lot of change to my life:
  • I started getting injections into my neck/upper spine to help relieve tension in my neck, shoulder and arm.
  • I spent months visiting doctors and specialists to try and figure out gastrointestinal issues (that oddly, started after my surgery in 2013).
  • Working on regaining strength into my left arm with physical activity.
  • Ending a 3+ year somewhat dysfunctional relationship.
  • Rebuilding my relationship with the gym and my fitness
  • Struggling with old “demons” that reared their little heads: stress and emotional eating
  • Struggling with one of the toughest 6-months in my weight loss journey where the scale would fluctuate up and down
  • Trying to lose 20 pounds I allowed myself to put on in 6-months trying to deal with/figure out life

I’m not pointing the blame on any situation or on any particular person/people. I was silently dealing with issues, trying to figure things out for myself, bottling things up inside, turning to food for comfort on days instead of exercising or venting with a friend. Regardless of all that’s gone on … I know that in my heart of hearts I did not give up on myself. There were instances of time where I was spot-on and great with my food/fitness … and then there would be times where I’d overeat on basically, junk to pacify my emotions. I’d binge eat. I’d stress eat. I’d boredom eat. I’d eat just because. At the core I’ve always been an emotional/boredom/just because eater and this past 6-months has taught me that I’m human and there are times when the things we thing we’ve got under control show us that slip-ups happen. I know that food is not the answer and I know that talking it out helps more than anything.  I’m going to work on keeping my focus on that … talk about issues/situations instead of eating over them. Don’t let the emotional eater win because it only hurts me in the end. I realize that with the 20 pounds I have gained that I’m the “heaviest” I have been in nearly 2-years … but I’m determined to not beat myself up over my downfalls because nothing good can come from making yourself feel bad. I don’t want a pity party. I want to motivate myself to be the best possible version of myself for ME!

Now, within the past 3-weeks I’ve started drinking Metamucil (per doctor’s orders). I’m finding it’s something that I need to work with and see if over time my body will react to it better. Right now, it’s making me very uncomfortable, it’s making my stomach sort of “blow up” but I hope with time it’ll help a number of issues on hand. I also hope over time my body will get used to it and not react so harshly to the increased fiber. I eat a decent amount of fiber in my normal everyday food but the Metamucil is a little bump in the road I need to be patient with.

I've made a pretty stand-up schedule for myself at the gym taking specific classes that I really enjoy: zumba, kickboxing, kettlebell, and total body workout.  Of course with each new season my gym changes up the schedule to keep things interesting, which will mean trying new classes and new things. I find with each week I'm able to do more and I'm getting stronger. My plan is to also begin working out within the gym on top of in classes to get a full "better bang for my buck".

All instances aside … I hope that 2015 brings increased health, wealth and prosperity for me as well as for you and your loved ones. Here’s to making 2015 one of the best years of our lives!

Emily Bites Bubble Up Enchilada Casserole

Enchiladas are one of those foods I've always been "iffy" with. I think particularly because the few times I have had enchiladas out they have been bland, tasteless and far less then stellar. Admittedly, having a mediocre/bad dish time after time can make one weary to want to try it again. But after I'd heard rave reviews on the Emily Bites Bubble Up Enchilada Casserole I decided to give it a try. I mean, after all, I had all the ingredients on hand except for the enchilada sauce.
Whipping up the dish itself took not much time at all. Then after that it was a quick trip into the oven to bake off to perfection. Before the dish went into the oven, I got stellar responses from family members - because again, not huge enchilada fans. Once it came out of the oven, opinions began to sway slightly. But once the dish was cut up, plated and served ... all of our prior opinions on enchiladas as a whole shifted - drastically.
This dish is absolutely delicious! It totally transformed my opinion on enchiladas and made me realize that just because I've had less than stellar dishes in the past, it doesn't mean enchiladas are all plain and boring dish. It's filling, it's delicious and it's a perfect meal alongside a tossed salad.
A serving is 1/6th of the dish which is only 7 points plus values.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Trader Joe's Roasted Vegetable Multi-Grain Lasagna

There are occasions where I'm in the mood for lasagna ... but I'm a bit of a lasagna snob. Growing up my mother always made homemade lasagna's so I find myself comparing lasagna's to the good ole fashioned lasagna. Most don't even come close ... but I decided to try out the Trader Joe's Roasted Vegetable Multi-Grain Lasagna because it was different. Typically my lasagna's contain some sort of meat in them ... but this seemed interesting so I gave it a shot.
I have to say ... I'm glad I did. This is one of the best frozen lasagna's I have had. A quick trip to cook in the microwave (you can also cook it in the oven if you prefer) and it comes out perfectly. The edges crisp (which is my favorite part of any lasagna), it's loaded with delicious cheese and the vegetables are chopped up nice and small which blend with the sauce and noodles. It's unique and different.

It was very satisfying paired alongside a garden salad. I found it's quite enjoyable and it will be an item to repurchase to have on hand when I'm in the lasagna mood and I don't have any frozen slices from a tray that I have made.  I shared some with my mother (who is an even bigger lasagna snob than myself) and she really enjoyed it.
A serving, 1/4 of container, is 240 calories or 6 points plus values.

Pringles White Chocolate

One afternoon on a waltz through Target I decided to take a walk on the wild side and pick up a container of Pringles White Chocolate chips. After all they were 50% off due to a coupon on Targets Cartwheel app. So I figured I'd give them a shot and leave the rest out for my coworkers to give a taste test.
Initially I assumed the chips would be long tubes - meaning similar to what is shown on the outside packaging. But low and behold upon opening the canister I learned they are not shaped any differently than how your average Pringles are shaped. Trying the Pringles I wouldn't say they were disgusting or out of this world fabulous. They were different and rather unique.
They're your classic salty potato chip which has a slight hint of sweetness which resembles a white chocolate flavor. They're not white chocolate covered potato chips by any shot ... but it sort of tastes like it. It's not overwhelming or boom in your face, but it's there. You kind of have to really get the chip onto your tongue to taste the flavor because quite honestly after a few you sort of lose the subtle sweetness and they just taste like plain ole potato chips.
A serving, 1 ounce, is 150 calories or 4 points plus values.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Sloppy Joe Casserole

One afternoon I was in the mood for sloppy joe's but I wanted them in a different fashion. I wasn't really feeling the whole sloppy joe sandwich deal. Since I've recreated a few Emily Bites recipes, I decided to take a page out of that book and roll with my own twist. Why not make a Sloppy Joe Casserole?
I whipped up the dish and put it into the oven to finish off and it came out absolutely perfect. It was filling, deliciously flavored and was such a unique way to have a sloppy joe. Everyone loved it and thought it was an ingenious idea to have a new and different twist on a sloppy joe sandwich. Plus with anything that is easily able to cut into serving size portions is a win-win for me.
Serves 6. 8 Points Plus Values.
* 1 1/8 lb 93% lean ground turkey
* 8 oz fresh mushrooms, chopped
* 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 7.5 oz can, refrigerated, classic biscuits, cut into quarters (I used Aldi brand)
* 2 oz low fat shredded mozzarella (I used Trader Joe's brand)
* 1 can Manwich Sloppy Joe Sauce 
* 1 tbsp hamburger seasoning (optional - I use McCormick brand)
Spray a saute pan with non-stick cooking spray and heat pan over medium-high heat. Add in onion, bell pepper, mushrooms and lean ground turkey - breaking up ground turkey with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle turkey with hamburger seasoning.  Cook meat and vegetable mixture until cooked through and meat is no longer pink.
Top meat mixture with can of Manwich, stir to combine. Add in chopped refrigerated biscuits and stir to combine.
Transfer sloppy joe mixture to a large baking dish (which has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray). Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, top with mozzarella cheese and place pan back into the oven to bake for another 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and slightly browned.
Cut into 6 equal pieces and serve.

Trader Joe's Petite Fig, Pear and Cranberry Tart

I admit ... any time I go to Trader Joe's I scope out the fresh desserts table. You know ... to see if anything will perhaps catch my eye. Typically something does, which results in me looking at the nutrition label and deciding whether it's worth it or not. I picked up the Trader Joe's Petite Fig, Pear and Cranberry Tart gave it a once over, checked the nutrition label and decided to give it a try.
With cranberries being the thing for the winter season it appeared intriguing. The tart looked fluffy, flaky and delicious. The top had what appeared to be a crumble topping. Cutting the tart into thirds I was concerned once I pulled a slice off the tray. The middle of the tart appeared to not be cooked all the way through. Well, it was either that or the fruit just made the middle of the tart soggy, stringy and unappealing.  I took my knife and cut all around the middle of the tart to dispose of the middle.
The outer half of the tart was alright ... really on the plain side of flavor. It wasn't truly buttery, it had more of a croissant texture to it, while it was more tart than sweet and was mediocre all around. Nothing to brag about while nothing worth eating. Sadly, the remainder of the tart found a permanent home in the garbage bin.
Better luck next time?

A serving, 1/3 of the tart, is 290 calories or 8 points plus values.

Weight Watchers Cookbook Haul

I've said it time and time again ... I'm a sucker for new Weight Watchers cookbooks. Case in point: the whole reason behind this post.  I popped into my weekly meeting a few weeks ago for my routine Thursday meeting. Upon walking in I noticed they had a few new cookbooks out on the display shelf. After gathering my items to weigh in I asked the receptionist if the cookbooks were new and was advised they were and they were on sale.
Just happened to be it was buy 1 get one 50% off. I initially was going to just get one, but since I've been realizing I'm eating the same things and tend to get into a food rut I decided to just get both. So this way I have an idea of how to incorporate more power foods into my meals than just the normal everyday ones I tend to use.

So I picked up the Love It, Cook It, Eat It! cookbook and the Master Your Meals cookbook. I haven't tried any of the recipes in the books as of yet ... but from what I've glanced over some are quite intriguing. I have just about all the ingredients needed to make one of the dishes so I'll probably bust out my chefs hat and roll up my sleeves soon and give a few of them a try.