Saturday, July 27, 2013

Summer salsa

There's only person in my house who likes peppers.

Since that person is me, I get to claim all six servings of the freshest, yummiest summer salsa - which was just made today. (Yes, we visited the farmer's market).

This stuff is so good that you don't need to eat it with baked tortilla chips. It's awesome as a side dish, a topping for tacos or, if you must, as a chip dip. 

Every ingredient in today's batch was fresh, sans the canned black beans. I think that's what made it extra amazing. However, I've made it before with all store-bought produce and remember it was a crowd-pleaser. 

Seriously, you can't go wrong.

Here are the ingredients:

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 tomatoes, chopped
3 peppers, diced (I used a red, yellow and orange bell pepper)
1 diced hot pepper (I used a spicy banana)
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
3 ears of corn, cut from the cob after cooked
1 garlic clove
Lime juice, to taste

By my calculations, 1 cup of this should cost you 2 WW points plus. 

Thank you, 0-point peppers!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hidden veggie pasta

My father-in-law is one of the pickiest eaters I know.

Early in my marriage to JJ, I learned the importance of pureeing vegetables when my FIL was coming over for dinner. It still makes me giggle to remember how he gobbled up my spaghetti sauce, which included a hidden zucchini, onion and pepper - all foods he would never eat on their own.

Since the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, this act of hiding veggies from my husband's blood line has come in handy. My own children can be less-than-adventurous about their vegetables, and so I'm always looking for recipes that will allow me to use my sneaky skill.

Last week, I found one on SkinnyMs that looked good, allowed me to use some of the fresh basil in my garden and featured one of my favorite vegetables, zucchini. (Plus, it is a crockpot recipe, which is always a bonus for the working mom!)

The small critics, my kids, asked about "the green stuff" (shredded zucchini), which I sold as "spices." The big critic, JJ, asked me to cut back on the basil the next time I make it. 

Did you catch it? The next time I make it.

They liked it! Four "clean" plates at the end of dinner helped prove that point.

And, speaking of points, this was a bargain for 5.2 for a heaping cup of cheesy, veggie pasta. 

We'll be having it again tonight. 

(Working moms also love leftovers.)

Zucchini Pasta - my modified version

1 jar of light Ragu marinara sauce
3 cups of dry, Smart Taste penne pasta
2 cups of Great Value fat-free cottage cheese
2 cups of 2% Kraft Mexican shredded cheese
1 zucchini, shredded
Pinch of oregano
Fresh basil (I used about 1/4 cup - too much for JJ's taste)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Pinch of salt
Pinch of garlic

Mix all ingredients and pour into crockpot. Cook for two hours, or until the pasta reaches your desired consistency. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Stress cone

It's only Tuesday.

And yet it's already one of those weeks.

I came home from work tonight, fixed a healthy dinner for the family, topped it off with a piece of sugar-free and low-points chocolate cake, and journaled my food. A few hours later, the kids are in bed and I want a treat. Now. 

Yes, I know, we shouldn't reward ourselves with food. This fosters bad habits. Got it. But it's one of those weeks, and so maybe just this one time it will be ok. 

(See, even wannnabe Weight Watchers leaders have "off" days.)

The good news is there isn't much in my kitchen that can be classified as "bad."

I can choose from low-fat popcorn, baked chips and salsa, a bowl of Lucky Charms (my vice!) or frozen yogurt.

Here's what I selected:

A frozen yogurt cone - which feels so scandalous - cost me only 3.7 points (3.3 points for 1/2 cup of yogurt and 0.4 pints for the cone). And I cherished every single, tasty, creamy bite.

(And here's a message to my kids...)

Now, I'm ready to face Wednesday!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Outstanding overnight oatmeal

My mom calls my son "a breakfast eater."

Most mornings, he eats at least two breakfasts - sometimes three - and when I tell him he needs to slow down, he protests "Nana says I'm a breakfast eater."

My consolation for this overeating behavior is that JB doesn't eat much in the evenings.

But perhaps his breakfast-eating ways come from my side of the family. After all, I'm somewhat obsessed with breakfast myself.

This week's morning menu - my personal one - features overnight oats. 

Heard of them? They're all the rage on Pinterest.

I like the recipe on Skinnytaste (of course) and have modified it to fit my own taste buds:

1/4 cup of oatmeal
1/2 cup of Unsweetened Almond Milk
1 tablespoon of milled flaxseed
1/4 of a banana, mashed
1/4 cup of your favorite fruit
Sprinkle of cinnamon
1 packet of Splenda

Mix all of these ingredients together, place in a jar or Tupperware bowl (my preference) and put it in the fridge. Wait at least 12 hours before eating.

My calculations show this to be a four-point breakfast - unless you top it with natural almonds or walnuts, which is fantastic.

For the next four days, I have lots of overnight oats options - strawberry and blueberry, blueberry and raspberry, and peach. 

And there's no way I could pick a favorite.

You can't ask that of a breakfast eater.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Found: World's Best Lean Cuisine

I was about to hang "Wanted" posters all around town, complete with reward money for the person who could help me find it.

Stouffer's managed to get me addicted to their Butternut Squash Ravioli Lean Cuisine - the world's best frozen dinner - and then suddenly it was nowhere to be found.

Let me tell you how much I love this Lean Cuisine. 

I am a faithful Walmart SuperCenter shopper. The prices can't be beat and if I shop early enough in the morning to beat the crowd, the experience is fantastic. As a "Mom CEO," (I love this popular, new demographic - it makes me sound powerful!) I appreciate the ability to buy everything in one place.

That said, the Butternut Squash Ravioli wasn't available at my SuperCenter. So I was making special trips to a Neighborhood Market to buy some. When the NM stopped carrying it, I found it at Target - and literally only went there just to buy my favorite frozen meal.

Then they disappeared. 

I had one stuffed in the back of the freezer for a special occasion. Imagine how much I cried, when JJ and I came home one night from a date and our babysitter was munching away on the last Lean Cuisine. (In all fairness, I always tell her to "help herself to anything in the kitchen.")

Months went by - and every week, I crossed my fingers as I walked down the frozen foods section of the grocery store. Every week, there was only disappointment.

But finally it happened: the world's best Lean Cuisine has reappeared - and at my SuperCenter nonetheless!

I can't tell you how many I bought, for it would be embarrassing. It would've been worse if we owned a deep freeze, trust me.

Just know this: those seven WW points are worth every single bite.

If you can find them! 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Just like Magnolia Bakery

During a long weekend trip to the Big Apple a few weeks ago, my mom and I happened upon the famous Magnolia Bakery.

Overwhelmed by the selection of gorgeous and sure-to-be scrumptious cupcakes, I wasn't worried about points. After all, we had already walked nearly nine miles in one day. Mom chose the featured cupcake for the day - hummingbird - while I struggled to make a decision, finally landing on a strawberry and cream cheese beauty. 

We trudged back to the hotel, where Mom promptly fell asleep. After a long shower, I settled in with a movie and decided to enjoy my sinful dessert. Who in the world knows how many points were in that little piece of heaven? Halfway through it though, the Catholic guilt set in and I tossed it in the trash. Note: this act of wastefulness didn't have anything to do with the taste - it was magnificent!

The next morning, Mom woke up and decided to have her hummingbird cupcake for breakfast. "It's kind of like a breakfast cinnamon cake," she told me, with a giant smile on her face. Unlike me, she didn't toss half of hers in the garbage bin, but she did let me have a morsel of a bite (which probably cost me five points). It was even better than the strawberry cupcake! 

This got me to thinking that there had to be a way to enjoy such a delicious treat without breaking the Weight Watchers daily bank. 

Enter Skinnytaste - in my opinion, one of the best Weight Watchers recipe blogs around. Gina, the blogger, had a slimmed-down version of a hummingbird cupcake. Last night, I got a baking wild hair and decided to see how these would compare to those at Magnolia. 

Three words: Make them now. 

Eat them for breakfast; eat them for a snack; or eat them because you've walked nine miles in New York City and owe yourself a treat. Just make them.

Oh, and bonus, you can make 22 of these for less than it cost me to purchase two cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery. 

And that's counting dollars, not points. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Leaning in: back to blogging

A thought-provoking post showed up in my Facebook feed this week from Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In team.

"What would you do if you were not afraid?"

There are so many possible answers, but one really stood out: I would finally take the steps to become an official, on-the-record, certified Weight Watchers leader. 

This would require a commitment of time, something I feel like I don't currently have - between raising kids, being a wife and a little gig called a full-time job in Corporate America. Then I remembered this blog, which I have ignored for over a year. This blog is an easy way fuel that passion, by sharing my WW tips and recipes. 

So, I'm back. Promise.

I'm still living the WW lifestyle. Last year was key for me. I shed 16 pounds to get back to the magic 1-3-5, and even dropped below those numbers. Faithfully journaling has been the key, along with lots of cooking at home. 

This morning, I tried a new breakfast option and I'd like to share. The first meal of the day is important for me because I typically (1) eat it in the car during my commute or (2) eat at my desk once I get to work. (Someday, I will be able to quietly enjoy my cup of coffee while sitting on the deck in my robe.) It has to be filling because, once work kicks up, I run all day. Lunch sometimes doesn't come until 2 p.m. so breakfast is crucial.

Today's breakfast spot was my poffice. On the menu was Chobani greek yogurt (3.4) with fresh strawberries (0) and two tablespoons of KIND granola (1.3). It was fantastic! And all for 4.7 points.

I'm not afraid to try new things, and I'm not afraid to get this blog back up and running.

I'm leaning in.