Sunday, December 26, 2010

SNOWED IN! - Happy Holidays =)

The weather outside isn't really frightful, and I don't have a fireplace that's delightful, but I've got no place to go... so LET IT SNOW! LET IT SNOW! LET IT SNOW!

These are just for a reference point of what my front yard and back yard looked like at 11:30 this morning.  Pictures of what it looks like now are further down. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Oh, the things you can do when fruit is free!!

Every day that goes by I'm learning new tasty things you can do with fruit.  Since Weight Watchers clearly wants us to eat more fruit, why not embrace it?  So here are a few things I've done in order to avoid getting bored of fruit...

 Take a banana and slice it like shown, spray a few sprays of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray, sprinkle some cinnamon, and one packet of the artificial sweetener of your choice. Put it in the microwave for 30-45 seconds, and there you have a cinnamon banana. I also tried sprinkling 1/2 teaspoon Splenda Brown Sugar Blend on top, and that's still 0 PointsPlus!

You can do the same thing with an apple.

 Mango-pineapple smoothie (just fresh mango, fresh pineapple, a packet of artificial sweetener, and a few ice cubes blended in my beloved Magic Bullet)

Banana-pineapple smoothie (same concept - just even more delicious!!)

Strawberry-banana smoothie

Today I tried something different, I used frozen mixed berries and I put a splash of fat free milk (literally just a drop) and therefore I had to use a bigger blender... But it was absolutely delicious.

The other day I made my family Broccoli-Potato with Cheddar Cheese soup (1 cup = 3 PointsPlus), the recipe for which can be found in the PointsPlus Cookbook.  I doubled the recipe, and every last bite was eaten.  Both my brother and my boyfriend felt the need to add extra shredded cheese to their bowls, but I thought it was delicious as is.  As you can see, I like to pair my soup with toast rather than crackers.  (Arnold's Bakery Light 100% Whole Wheat is an excellent choice at only 1 PointsPlus per slice!)

Then the next night I made Shrimp Lo Mein (based on the recipe for Pork Lo Mein in the Weight Watchers' Ready, Set, Go Cookbook).

1 cup = 7 Points Plus, and EVERYONE LOVED IT! The whole family was fighting for the leftovers! That's the kind of success I hope for with everything I cook!

I believe in a past post I said that I would be willing to cook Weight Watchers' Roasted Vegetables every weekend.  Well since every Saturday is pizza night at my house, I figured I'd do it every Saturday so that you can fill up on one slice of pizza and a side of vegetables.

Clearly, I only like the onions and mushrooms.  Scratch that... I LOVE the onions and mushrooms.

Yesterday (12/19) was my best friend's 21st birthday party/her family's annual Christmas party, and I asked her what I could cook for her.  She asked me to make her Hungry Girl's Apple iCobbler (which I've already made), but when I saw the recipe for a French Apple Tart in the PointsPlus cookbook, I convinced her to let me make this one instead.

After peeling, coring, and tediously slicing and arranging the apple slices on the puff pastry and sprinkling the sugar on top.

After coming out of the oven. (Not going to lie, the puff pastry ripped and the melted sugar dripped all over the baking pan, but I managed to fix it all and no one would ever know!) My version actually looks like the picture in the book... YAY!!

Oh, and 0 PointsPlus apple pieces leftover... Twice as nice!

Tomorrow I am making the Ginger Shrimp and Vegetables in the Ready, Set, Go cookbook.  Later in the week I'm made the Provencal Tomato Tart (also in that book) and then a Vegetarian Pasta Skillet Recipe I found online that I will share with you after I've deemed it successful or not.

As always, if there's any particular food or meal you'd like to know a healthier recipe for, let me know, and I'll see what I can do for you.  Requests are welcome!

Until next time... Happy Eating!
- Steph =)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Never Stop Learning and Trying

Today was my last day of classes for the fall semester, but I'm never going to stop learning.  This week alone, I've learned how to cut a pineapple and a mango! Ok ok, so that's not exactly what I learned at school, but it's definitely more interesting than Business Development.

So here's the background story: I used to buy all sorts of pre-cut fruit from the fridges at the grocery store, but my dad would complain that it's too expensive and we're paying for people to cut something we could easily cut ourselves.  So the first step was to learn how to cut cantaloupe, but now I'm bored of that and reallyyyy craving pineapple.  So I'm going to learn exactly how to handle this leafy, spiky, pointy ball of yumm!

Luckily enough, my family just happens to have a handy dandy pineapple corer.

Unfortunately it was IMPOSSIBLE to use, and it made a HUGE mess.

But in the end, it was completely worth it, and my mother and I ate the whole think straight off the cutting board!

Lesson learned, but tomorrow I'm going to use a different method to cut the pineapple I just bought today.  I'm usually a huge fan of interesting kitchen tools, but this one seems like a disaster.

Switching gears just a bit, there is no part of cutting a mango that is fun or easy, but now that these delicious things are ZERO PTS+, I would peel and cut a mango every day if I had time.  My mom used to cut these for me for breakfast all the time when I was little, so I tried to remember how she did it back then and this is the result:

 I obviously knew I had to get the peel off and work my way around the pit.  Other than that, it was  easy!  (And yes, I did try to bite all the excess mango off of the pit.)


This free fruit has really given me a new perspective on things... Just look at how I made a 3 PTS+ peanut butter and banana sandwich:
 2 slices Arnold Bakery Light 100% Whole Wheat Bread (2 PTS+), 1 TBSP Better'n Peanut Butter (1 PTS+; if you use 2 TBSP it's 2 PTS+), 1/2 banana with a half to enjoy on its own (0 PTS+).  I could probably have one of these every day and never get bored of it.  Whoever decided that peanut butter and banana should be consumed together was clearly a genius!

When the new PointsPlus program rolled out, and I got my hands on the PointsPlus Cookbook, I immediately went through all the recipes and made a list of all the ones I wanted to try.
The one my whole family was most excited about is actually the one on the bottom right of the cover: linguine with pesto-ricotta and peas.  I think my version came out looking almost identical to the picture in the book...

This much (1 cup) is 7 PTS+, and my whole family loved it! If I didn't have a huge list of other recipes to try, I would definitely make this again.

To have with the pasta, I chopped up an onion, threw it on a baking sheet, sprayed it with some nonstick spray, and stuck it in the oven for about 15 minutes at 450 degrees. MMMM how I loveeee onion!

Yes, I love onion, but I've always been weary of spinach.  There's something about it that's just too leafy for me to get over.  It feels too much like I'm eating a tree.  BUT when this recipe for Spinach with Parmesan Bread Crumbs popped up on the Weight Watchers homepage, I took it as a sign that I needed to give spinach a second chance. 

While it looks fabulous, and smelled fabulous, spinach just isn't my thing, and it may never be my thing.

The most redeeming part of the recipe was the breadcrumbs!!

For the longest time I've been craving tomato soup, so when my mom and I went to the grocery store over the weekend we brought our PointsPlus calculator and our Food Companion with us to try to find a soup that will fit my PointsPlus budget and satisfy my craving.  Well, one out of two isn't bad, right?

I ended up going with Campbell's Select Harvest Tomato with Basil (1 cup = 3 PTS+).  The tomato part was great, but the basil was overbearing.  Every bite felt like a mouthful of herbs... not appealing at all!

As you can see, I had something else with my soup that night... and I ended up enjoying my Garden Lites Roasted Vegetable souffle more than the soup.  1/4 of the entire souffle is 2 PTS+... and it was so good that I ended up having two servings (only half of a serving is shown there).

 That's all I have for you guys for now, but tomorrow I'm making a broccoli-potato-cheddar soup (recipe can be found in the PointsPlus cookbook) and Friday I'm making a shrimp lo mein (a variation of a recipe in the Ready, Set, Go cookbook).  I'm super excited about the lo mein on Friday, but I really can't wait to exchange Christmas presents with my boyfriend on Friday!!  He'll never guess what I got him =)

I'll be sure to let you know how all of that goes.  Until then... happy eating,
Steph =)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Oh, how I missed this...

I'M FINALLY BACK! Only one more project due this Tuesday, and one more final on December 22nd.  Unfortunately these past two weeks I haven't had a lot of time to do much cooking, but it did take me those two weeks to learn the new Weight Watchers PointsPlus system... although it will take forever for me to know this one as well as I knew the old one.

So let me update you on what I've been up to in the mean time... (I apologize ahead of time for the fact that some of this food was made before the new program launched, so some of the PointsPlus values are missing)

1 Flatout Light Italian Herb Flatbread + 1/4 cup marinara sauce  + 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella + assorted veggies + 1 minute in the microwave = one big homemade pizza (I know this was 4 WW Points on the old plan, but I can't calculate it for the new plan because I don't remember what cheese and sauce I used!  My guess is about 5-7 though.)

 Au Bon Pain Tomato Florentine soup (12 oz medium size = 3 PTS+)

 Panera Bread Low Fat Garden Vegetable with Pesto soup (4 PTS+)... what's even better, the piece of french baguette that comes with it is only 4 PTS+!! (even though I opted for the whole grain baguette, which is sill 4 PTS+)

And the Thanksgiving pictures begin...

Splenda's recipe for Cranberry-Orange Sauce... It was OK, but I'm pretty sure the leftovers got thrown out because no one wanted them.

I decided to make Hungry Girl's Topless Triple Berry Pie, and this is my pie crust made out of FiberOne cereal.

 The filling didn't quite fill the crust, but it tasted fabulous so who cares!?!

Apparently, my mom cared, and she defiled my pie with Cool Whip Free and fresh blackberries... I liked it better without this gook on top.

Every Thanksgiving my mom makes this AMAZING Pumpkin Mousse from a WW recipe... I'm not sure where she found it, but it's 100% pure pumpkin + cool whip free + sugar free vanilla instant pudding mix + maybe fat free milk? (not sure the PTS+ value, but 1/2 cup = 2 old PTS)

Hungry Girl's Save the Day Stuffing... my family all complained that there was too much onion, but I LOVE ONION!

My family could not keep their hands off of the Pillsbury Reduced Fat Crescent Rolls (there were 8 to begin with, but in the picture there's only 3 - mind you this was BEFORE dinner)... but there's also some Birdseye Steamfresh broccoli, corn, and mixed veggies.

Always a go-to meal... Some soup to warm me up in this frigid weather (Au Bon Pain's Garden Vegetable soup... 12 oz = 2 PTS+) and a small fruit cup (0 PTS+)!!

Another fabulous combination: 1 shot of Kahlua mixed with fat free milk + store brand fresh frozen peaches thawed in the microwave (I didn't know until after the fact that 1 "jigger" of Kahlua is 6 PTS+!!! But every once in a while, it's completely worth it.)

How many food pairs can I make in one post? WW Giant Vanilla Fudge Ice Cream Cone (4 PTS+) and Nestle Fat Free Hot Chocolate (1 PTS+) - Yes, I'm aware that hot chocolate with ice cream doesn't seem to make sense, but to me it does!

1 Flatout Light Italian Herb Flatbread + 1 Morningstar Farms Gillers Chik'n Veggie Patty + lettuce + a drop of Wishbone Fat Free Italian dressing + microwave it for 30 seconds or so... MMMM! (4 PTS+ if I remember correctly)

This recipe is in one of the booklets either given out at meetings last week or in the new PointsPlus books, but it's also right here... Weight Watchers Roasted Vegetables.  I added some mushrooms, and when I made it again I used asparagus instead of artichokes... I could easily make this every weekend. I LOVEEE roasted mushroom and onion.

Banana + Deep Chocolate VitaMuffin (3 PTS+)... Since the VitaTops and VitaMuffins are more PointsPlus, I'm eating a lot less of them, but they are still worth every bite.  And I love that I can have a 0 PointsPlus banana with it.

So that's what you missed these past two weeks.  This Thursday and Friday I'm making a 7 PointsPlus Shrimp Lo Mein and a 3 PointsPlus Broccoli, Potato, and Cheddar Cheese Soup - both of which can be found in the two new Weight Watchers PointsPlus cookbooks. CAN'T WAIT!

Happy Eating,
Steph =)

Sunday, November 28, 2010


I will return with a super long post full of many, many pictures once I am done with my projects for school and once I have figured out this new Weight Watchers program.

Until then... Happy eating, Steph =)

P.S. requests are always welcome... what are you craving?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

This Week's Healthy Finds and Preparing for Thanksgiving!!

Since it was my mom's birthday this weekend, she didn't want me to cook, she wanted to eat out instead.  But I HAD to update with a post, lest I leave my readers stranded, so I'm dedicating this post to some healthy and delicious finds I made this week.

Last Thursday (11/11), I had an overwhelming craving for soup that came about in the middle of my Business Development class.  Right when class was over, I went out of my way to stop at Au Bon Pain, and to my disappointment, they didn't have any low-cal vegetarian soups available that day.  Well this week, I had quite some luck with finding several yummy low-cal soups, all available on the run.

Clearly I was so excited to eat it that I forgot to take a picture ahead of time, but this WAS Au Bon Pain's Tomato Florentine soup - ("Tender Pasta Shells and Leaf Spinach are simmered in a Tomato laced Beef Broth accented with select Spices, Fresh Garlic, and Pecorino Romano")  Even though I don't eat meat, the beef broth was acceptable.  The 12oz medium was 2 WW Points, and extremely fulfilling.  However, if you wish to indulge a bit more, the 16 oz large is still only 3 WW Points!  I'm definitely going to have to get this again - soon!

The day after that amazing find, I was still craving soup.  I decided to see what some of NYU's dining halls had to offer me.  While the nutrition facts were somewhat ambiguous (i.e. there were two sizes and only one set of nutrition facts), I figured I would go with the smaller size (which is still 12 oz) just to be safe.  I found a Chipotle Sweet Potato soup for 150 calories, and a Carrot Ginger soup for 120 calories.  I don't think I would have ever tried either of these if I weren't craving soup so badly, but I'm glad I did.  I will DEFINITELY be giving NYU soup more thought from now on.

 I saw these cute little Starbucks ornaments the other day, and I just couldn't resist sharing!  Find them here and here.

Unfortunately, my visit that started with holiday cheer ended in confrontation with a barista and speaking to the manager.  I ordered a Skinny Vanilla Latte (made with Sugar Free Vanilla syrup and Fat Free milk).  I caught the barista using whole milk for my drink!!! When I asked him about it, he denied it!  I don't feel it's necessary to waste calories on milk, when a lower calorie substitute is readily available, and I would not have had the drink as he made it.  Since he wouldn't remake my drink, I was forced to speak to the manager who made the drink herself, and assured me she would reprimand him.  Would you have done anything about it?  I promise you I saw him pour the whole milk straight out of the carton, into the steamer, and into my drink.  I'm not sure why I feel bad about this.

Anyway, on to happier things...

 As is the new tradition in my family, birthday cakes are out, and Edible Arrangements are in.  They are sooooooo expensive, but soooooo worth it!  I got my mom a medium-sized Dipped Fruit Bouquet... I'm semi-ashamed to say we devoured the whole thing (just the two of us) in about a half hour.

 The positive side is that we were both really full when we went grocery shopping right after that, so the impulse buying was limited.  And the one impulse purchase we did make was a healthy one...

 The Waldbaums by me happens to have a prepared hot food bar.  I noticed these cooked veggies a while ago, but my mom finally gave me the courage to give them a try - and boy am I glad she did.  These were DELICIOUS!  There was zucchini, carrots, string beans, and asparagus cooked in a balsamic vinaigrette.  This was the first time I've EVER had asparagus, but it certainly won't be the last.

So for my mom's birthday, she wanted to go to Applebee's - not at all a problem since they are dedicated to providing options for those who are counting calories, and some of their meals are even endorsed by Weight Watchers! YAY!

 I know what you're thinking - "That doesn't look like it's endorsed by Weight Watchers."  But I have an answer to that... This is the drink that I was desperately craving on my birthday, but I was unable to have one because I made myself sick from over-indulging at dinner.  Happy belated birthday to me - love, myself.

Anyway, it's Applebee's Mud Slide - "Blended with Kahlúa, vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup and whipped cream"  I don't know how many calories, and frankly, I don't really care - It was AMAZING!

 This is the drink my mom got - Applebee's Bahama Mama -  "Malibu Coconut rum, crème de banana liqueur, pineapple juice, orange juice and grenadine."

Her and I both liked my drink better, but her's was about half the calories.  You win some, you lose some.

 Applebee's Cajun Lime Tilapia ("A grilled Cajun-seasoned tilapia fillet topped with lime juice and black bean & corn salsa, served on a bed of rice pilaf with a side of seasonal vegetables") is my go-to dinner that I literally ALWAYS get whenever I go to Applebee's.  Indeed, it is endorsed by Weight Watchers, and it is only 6 WW Points!  Needless to say, after that huge drink, I didn't have room for dinner, and I ended up taking most of it home anyway.

Now for a little previes of what's to come... My Low(er) Calorie Thanksgiving Plan:
(I don't eat meat, so my mom is dealing with the turkey.)

Yes, it's a lot, but my mom is helping, and I'm going to do as much as possible ahead of time.  I have faith that it will all get done, and it will all taste fabulous!  If you can't handle it all yourself, invite a friend or a few friends over and divide up the recipes.  There should never be a situation where you feel forced to eat something you don't want to... plan ahead and figure out how to enjoy the holiday your way!
Until Thanksgiving - Happy Eating!
- Steph =)