Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cinco de Mayo Casserole

Just around the corner is a great day for a little festive celebration, Mexican style! Why not celebrate with a great WW Friendly recipe?

Invite friends to share this great dish. Add a "virgin" margarita or splurge and have the real thing and make it a great fun night!

Of course you have to "shake your maracas" and get some extra activity points! Cinco de Mayo is the perfect day to do it!

Cinco de Mayo Picante Chicken Enchiladas

Serves: 6

1 jar (16 ounces) Pace® Picante Sauce
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
2 teaspoons chili powder
12 oz. cubed cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, fat free
6 medium wheat tortillas (8-inch), warmed
1 green onion, thinly sliced (about 2 tablespoons)

Stir 3/4 cup picante sauce, sour cream and chili powder in a medium bowl.

Stir the picante sauce mixture, chicken and cheese in a large bowl.

Spoon 1/3 cup chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll up the tortillas and place seam-side up in a lightly greased 11 x 8-inch shallow baking dish. Pour the remaining picante sauce over the filled tortillas. Cover the baking dish.

Bake at 350°F. for 40 minutes or until the enchiladas are hot and bubbling. Top with the onion.

*Original Recipe from Pace Picante®/Campbell's® Kitchen - reworked by Bev P. to become Weight Watcher® friendly!

Monday, April 27, 2009

It's Picnic Time! Can you handle it?


Picnic's... ahhhh, the glorious days of gathering with friends and family to share outdoor fun and, of course, that great picnic food. But going to a picnic while trying to lose weight can be a horrible event. All that mayonnaise layden food, greasy grilled burgers, those fatty, cheesy casseroles. HOW could you ever manage?

Well here's a few recipes to help you stay the course, along with some ideas for food you can take for yourself!

We enjoyed some wonderful, "Weight Watcher®" friendly macaroni salad at this weekend's picnic. Of course, double batches are often needed if you're cooking for a crowd but that's the glory of this can be doubled or tripled without any real problems! Here's the version I made with some tips/changes you could use to create your own personal flavor!

Macaroni Salad (2)
4 1/2 cup(s) cooked macaroni, kept warm
3/4 cup(s) fat-free mayonnaise
1/4 cup(s) fat-free sour cream
3 tbsp sweet pickle relish
1 medium sweet red pepper(s), diced
1 medium green pepper(s), diced
1/4 cup(s) sweet onion(s), minced
1/8 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp table salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper, or to taste

While macaroni is still warm, place in a large bowl. Add mayonnaise, sour cream and relish; toss to coat. Add peppers, and onion; toss to combine. Season to taste with onion powder, salt and pepper.

Chill for at least 1 hour.

1/2 cup per serving (2).

The original recipe called for 1 medium carrot(s), diced also, which I myself omitted. If you like carrots in your macaroni salad, by all means use it!

You can basically stick with the 4 1/2 Cups cooked macaroni to 3/4 Cup Fat Free Mayo/Salad Dressing and 1/4 Cup Fat Free Sour Cream as the base for your salad. Add to that your "normal" ingredients to give your salad your own taste. As long as you use "free" items, such as veggies and/or spices. Adding a single hard boiled egg does not change the food (value) at all and can add a little extra something to the dish.

What to take for the grill:

If you find that they're going to be cooking up burgers and dogs why not take along your own "Light" hot dog (2) or 4 oz. burger made from 99% fat free ground turkey (1) or 95% fat free beef (4)? Nobody will have a clue and it will help keep you on program! Better yet, if you're not hankering for beef, you could always add a skinless, boneless chicken breast for an easy count (3). Marinate the chicken breast ahead of time in fat free Italian dressing for a no extra food values added!

Don't forget to bring your own light bun!


Yes, you can create "friendly" versions of casseroles to share with everyone and keep it so you know how to count your servings too!

Here's one of my favorites to take when you're asked to "bring a dish"!

Un-Stuffed Cabbage Roll Casserole(6)

Yield: 6 Servings

1.5 Pound Extra Lean Ground Beef

2 Medium Onions, chopped

6 Cloves Garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Salt

1/2 teaspoon Pepper

16 oz. Tomato Sauce

1 Cup Water

1/2 Cup Uncooked Long Grain Rice(white)

1 (16 oz.) Bag Classic Coleslaw Mix

Preheat oven to 350F. Brown beef until no longer pink. Drain grease off, if necessary. Add the onions, garlic, salt, pepper, tomato sauce, water, & uncooked rice. Bring to a simmer and cook until the rice is partially cooked (about 10-15 minutes). Spray a 9X13 pan with non-stick cooking spray. Layer half of the coleslaw mix into the bottom, then spread half of the meat mixture on top of that. Repeat layers. Do not stir. Cover tightly with a piece of foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours or until the cabbage is tender.

Dessert Table

Dessert's going to be a problem? Then bake up some awesome (3) brownies! Or take along a box of WW dessert's/bars that will help kill your sweet's needs!

Cutting up some fresh fruit or even stopping along the way to pick up a pre-cut container of fresh fruit from your local grocer can help you contain your desire to eat sweets that aren't good for you! Taking your own fruit will satisfy your "crunch" and "sweet" cravings.

Black Bean Brownies (3)

1 Pkg. (9x13 pan size) REGULAR Fudge Brownie Mix
1 Can (about 19 oz.) black beans with their juice

Blend black beans and their juice in a blender until complete smooth. Add to 1 box of brownie mix (not reduced fat, but regular) and stir until brownie mix is moistened completely. Bake in preheated oven according to brownie mix package directions.

Cut into 24 even pieces. (3 ea.)

*Note: Food Points will vary according to type of brownie mix you use.

*Note: While I know it sounds like a strange mixture, you have NO clue you've used black beans as your moistening agent for the brownies! I swear to you, they do not give off a taste at all in this recipe!


  • Spend time playing outdoor games instead of standing by the picnic tables nibbling

  • Play horseshoes, volleyball, etc. to keep active and not think about eating

  • Come to the picnic after you have already eaten one meal (lunch or breakfast) and not starving, it will help you control your hunger!

  • Go for a walk with friends/family after your dinner/lunch!

  • Take a seat farthest away from the main table that has food on it. This will keep you from leaning over or jumping up and reaching over to eat, mindlessly.

  • Enjoy conversation with your family and friends. Keeping busy and talking will help you avoid filling your mouth!

  • Offer to hold the newest "baby" at the picnic while "mom" eats. You'll have your hands too full to grab unhealthy foods!
As with most of "dieting" and changing lifestyles when it comes to eating, the key is planning ahead. Don't go hungry, don't ignore signs that you're getting hungry while there. Doing this will only make you grab the nearest, quickest and probably least healthy option!

Most of all, ENJOY your summer outings! Make the best of your time outdoors by keeping busy, enjoying conversation and friendship and most of all... THE SUNSHINE!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Staying In Control

It's often a heavy feat to "stay in control" around food, especially food that tend to be your "trigger" foods. I don't have a lot of days when I could eat a side of cow by myself but when those days come, WATCH OUT!

I feel so out of control and it's never "the same" each time. Some days I could eat anything sweet, other days anything "meaty", other days simply anything! It's not always the same reason I'm feeling out of control either. There are hormonal issues (aka "that time of the month"), there are stress issues (rarely the same each time), and there are "un-preparedness" issues (where I simply go without eating so long that I then finally let loose and grab it all).

There's no 100% effective way to deal with each of these issues and their end result of losing control of your eating habits. If there was, none of us would worry about them! But there are ways we can help ourselves gain control back. Here are a few tricks I've learned can help often, not always.

1. Try to always be prepared with your eating plans all mapped out

Always knowing ahead of time what you're going to eat saves you from grabbing the first thing in your face. Keeping snacks on hand, taking "2 pt" snacks in your purse or car in case of hunger can help alleviate a sudden rush to grab food and just stuff it in your mouth and can help tide you over until you can get to something nutritionally sound and a much better choice.
Knowing what the point values of foods are at a local restaurant before you go there saves you from eyeing all the other stuff available and making a faltering choice in the moment of passion too! Use your Weight Watcher's® Dining Out book or my favorite, (Dotties Weight Loss Zone) to look up points BEFORE going to the restaurant. I have truly found that planning ahead has saved me numerous times!

2. Try to make sure you eat at regular intervals

Allowing yourself to get overly hungry almost always ends in tragedy. Eat at regular intervals, never putting off eating until you can't stand it any more and cave in to a bad choice. Remember, on Weight Watchers® NOTHING is off limits, it's just not a "good" choice. This means YOU are in control! Again, keeping snacks always handy (in the car, in your purse, on the counter top) can help keep you from putting off eating until you're completely starving.

3. Find an alternative food product for what you're craving

Many times when we're craving a high fat item in particular, we can find a lower
fat version of the product to suffice our desire. This is often true of
chocolate and sweet products. Some great alternatives to high fat, high calorie sweet treats are low calorie, low fat alternatives such as a Weight Watcher Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffin, Special K Bliss Bars, VitaMuffin Tops, Unsweetened Applesauce flavored with a sugar alternative, Sugar Free popsicles or fudgsicles, The Laughing Cow Ice Cream snacks. Alternative to high fat, salty/crunchy snacks could be Lays Light Potato Chips, Baked Tortilla Chips (make them ahead and when you're feeling the need for a crunch you can add your own topping to attack that craving), Special K Crackers (these come in various flavors and kill the crunch crave immediately).

4. Drink Some Water or Flavored Drinks (calorie/sugar free)

I often can cure a "sweets" craving by simply drinking a huge glass of Crystal Light® or Diet Iced Tea. No points, zero calories, zero sugar and zero guilt in place of grabbing something that isn't really going to help me in the end is a wonderful alternative! The end result is not only killing that craving but filling me up so I don't even feel hungry any more. Of course this only works sometimes. If you truly are hungry then you need to grab a glass and drink it while preparing something tasty and low point to snack on! Some guilt free drinks: Crystal Light® (or other brand name sugar free drink mix), Diet Iced Tea, Diet Iced Coffee (use sugar free flavorings & sugar substitutes), Caffeine Free Diet Soda (not a favorite of mine as it tends to bloat but it can serve a purpose when done in moderation), Water (the good ol' fashioned alternative), Weight Watcher® Smoothie (1) (made with water/ice)

Crystal Light® now has a banana/strawberry flavor with fiber! So it not only helps kill that sweet need but fills you up! It's my absolute favorite flavor! I find mine at WalMart for $1.97 a box!

5. Find "other options" to eating

Finding other options to giving in to your eating can often help alleviate your impulse eating. Some great ideas to try "INSTEAD OF EATING" are:

Read - reading a book, magazine, newspaper can often take your mind off of the desire to eat when you have no points left or are really not hungry

Walk - take a walk, removing you from the place that you are can often create a new atmosphere that doesn't make you crave food

Call a Friend - it's pretty hard to talk on the phone, laugh and discuss issues with your mouth full! Talking with a friend can help ease the stress at hand that could be causing the desire to eat also

Exercise - Even if you don't belong to a gym you can generally find an inexpensive DVD that promotes exercise or Yoga. Many local cable and satellite dish companies offer these type of programs 24/7 on specific channels. Stop what you're doing and exercise! Not only will this add points IF you simply cannot continue to say "no" to putting something in your mouth but it can help alleviate the desire all together!

Go To Bed - It's a proven fact that people who get less sleep tend to be heavier. Perhaps when you're all out of points and it's close enough to bed time you could benefit 2-fold from climbing into bed and snoozing! This keeps you from putting the food in your mouth AND makes you catch up on some often needed sleep deprivation.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Comfort Food that Rocks!

These are by far my absolute favorite "comfort food" to make and have around!
I make them regularly and they freeze well. I put 2 in a bag for an instant serving sized, quick bite that easily microwaves!
My favorite way to use them? Sandwich a "Diner Meatloaf Muffin" inside the Arnold's Sandwich Thins for a wonderful, mouthwatering "Meatloaf Sandwich (4)". It's also a great way to hide some veggies if you have trouble getting the kids to eat them!

Diner Meat Loaf "Muffins"

1/2 cup chopped carrot *I put my carrot, onion, oregano, pepper, garlic in a blender
1 cup finely chopped onion *
1/2 chopped green or red sweet pepper*
1 teaspoon dried oregano *
2 garlic cloves, minced (or jar minced garlic 1/4 tsp) *
1 cup ketchup, divided
1 1/2 pounds ground beef, extra lean (95% lean) (raw)
1 cup finely crushed fat-free saltine crackers (about 20) *I use Special K Roasted Herb crackers instead (more flavor, less salt & less calories)
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.
Put onion, chopped carrot, dried oregano, and minced garlic in blender, blend until finely chopped, even slightly "mushy" - hides well in meatloaves, adds great flavor and gives moisture.

Combine onion mixture with meat, and add all remaining ingredients except cooking spray in a large bowl.

Spoon the meat mixture into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Top each with 2 teaspoons ketchup. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160°F. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2 "muffins")

CALORIES 276 (28% from fat); FAT 8.6g (sat 3g,mono 4g,poly 0.8g); PROTEIN 28.7g; CHOLESTEROL 131mg; CALCIUM 48mg; SODIUM 759mg; FIBER 1.8g; IRON 3.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 21.7g

Original recipe from: Cooking Light, MARCH 2006
*Updated by Bev P. aka "hockeygal4ever"

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Cinco de Mayo Favorite for Brunch or Dinner!

I've always been known as "The Casserole Queen". I tend to be able to create something from almost nothing in a matter of minutes and bake it in a one pot dish that will rock your socks off! This is quite easy when using less than healthy ingredients and not being worried about "points" or "calories" or "fat" and such.

Now that I'm following the Weight Watcher plan I tend to make a lot less of my yummy, gooey, cheesy, easy casseroles and I must confess, I myself tend to miss them once in a while. This inspired me to take a quite un-healthy recipe and tweak it to make it my own, healthy version! I had been making it for years with full fat cheeses, 3 different kinds, regular sour cream & double the tortillas. The changes, while huge in nutritional values, were barely noticeable and I cannot imagine going back to the full fat, high calorie version!

So I share with you.......

Chili Cheese Comfort Casserole (4)
(approximate nutritional values, without substitutions * 218 Calories/8g Fat/3g Fiber)
Serves 12


6 corn tortillas*
4 large eggs
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon chili powder (*optional, adjust for heat, can be left out if you prefer non-spicy version)
6 large egg whites
2 16-ounce containers low-fat cottage cheese
1 1/4 cups fat free shredded cheddar cheese 1 1/4 cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
(making this small sacrifice of combining a fat free and regular cheese is barely noticeable and gives the cheese enough fat to remain "creamy")
4 4-ounce cans chopped mild green chile's
1 cup fat free sour cream
1 cup low fat salsa

Preheat oven to 350°F

Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Toast up your tortillas by either placing them one at a time directly on a burner (gas or electric) set at medium heat or tossing on a counter top style grill (my favorite way) Toast, turning frequently with tongs, until golden, 30 to 60 seconds.

Cut tortillas into 1-inch-wide strips.

*Note: the lowest value/healthiest tortillas I can find are the La Tortilla brand and I use these to lower the entire value of the recipe, but again the values given are for standard corn tortillas, nothing special. The "corn" tortillas work best as they stay firm. Flour tortillas tend to get soggy and chewy, not as good, but can be used.

Whisk all of the eggs in a large bowl until smooth and slightly foamy in texture.

Slowly, add flour, baking powder, chili powder & salt; whisking until smooth.

Add cottage cheese, Cheddar cheese, chile's and tortilla strips to egg mixture, stirring with spatula.

Pour into the prepared 9x13 baking dish.

Bake the casserole until set in the center and golden on top, 45 to 55 minutes.
Let cool for 10 minutes to set up, making it easier to cut into squares and serve.

Cut into 12 even squares.

Serve with salsa & dollop of fat free sour cream on top!

This is what's going to be rockin' our table this year as we celebrate Cinco de Mayo! A few maracas, a nice margarita for dessert and some authentic Mexican music playing from the I-Pod!

Now THAT's eating right!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Pumpkin Pancakes

Fiber One Pancake Mix is one of my favorite staples in the cupboard. This is one of many ways I prepare them. It makes a wonderful breakfast item but we often enjoy them for dinner or even "snacks". I love to make extra batches and keep them in the fridge or freezer for later use. A quick fix when microwaved!

Pumpkin Pancakes (2)

3 Pancakes per serving

2 Cups Fiber One Pancake Mix
1 1/2 Cups water
1/2 Can pumpkin pie filling
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients together. Use a scant measuring cup of 1/4 cup (not too full) and drop onto hot pan.

These are a wonderful "snack" even, enjoy mine with a few cooked apples, cinnamon & splenda rolled up inside, nuked for about 30 seconds. Absolutely DIVINE!

Easter Ham... low point style & a FEAST to accompany it!

One of my absolute favorite hams is a turkey ham. While many cringe at the thought of another meat being "passed off" as something else, I swear to you that you cannot tell the difference in the turkey ham, other than the lack of fat and saltiness!

Turkey ham is very point friendly. A serving size of 2 oz. is 60 calories/0g fat/0g fiber! That's not only very low point, but low enough to double a portion if you want! After all it IS a holiday!

I bake my ham (turkey ham) in the crock pot with a can of diet coke on top and 1/4 cup of brown sugar. This year I'm going to lower the brown sugar to a few Tablespoons, instead of 1/4 cup. I, personally, won't add "points" for any of these ingredients as they're not that high in quantity or points value alone to really make a huge difference. Of course, you do as you feel most comfortable.

I purchase my turkey hams at Aldi's. One ham (which is small but, remember, has NO fat on it and no bone) on average is about $4! I purchased 2 of them for Easter dinner, for a total of just under $8. My kids actually prefer the turkey ham and complain when I use standard pork hams for our ham dinners, saying it's "fatty" or "salty" or "just weird".

So this Easter make your Easter dinner more point friendly by using turkey ham in place of standard pork hams, loaded with fat and salt!

Also, concentrate on tons of side dishes that are point friendly and filling. If 2/3 of your plate are veggies, it leaves less space for calorie layden meats & sides.

On our table this year we will have carrots with maple & cinnamon sprinkles. I've mentioned the Maple & Cinnamon sprinkles many times in my blogs and purchase them at a restaurant supply store called GFS (Gordon Food Service). Check your grocery stores for similar items, in the spice aisle. I'll spray a few sprays of ICBINB on the carrots for taste with few calories added.

Mashed potatoes, made with fat free (skim) milk of course and foregoing the butter or margarine... no sense adding it when you can put "flavor" in with herbs & spices. I'll add the typical salt & pepper for this time, because of the (definitely OFF plan) gravy that goes with it. I'll make sure though, that the gravy is very limited... just enough to give some flavor.

I purchased reduced fat crescent rolls. With NI of 90 Cal./4.5g fat/0g fiber, they're friendlier than the "standard" versions but definitely something you only want one of!

Green beans with onions, garlic, salt & pepper will make another plain but complimentary side dish to help fill our plate 2/3 full with veggie choices.

Of course no Easter meal at our house would be complete without candied yams. This year I'll be making fresh yams, microwaved, with a spray of ICBINB and some maple cinnamon sprinkles. I may melt a couple mini marshmallows on top as a treat!

Finish off your dinner plate with 2-4 oz. of ham and you have a huge meal with fairly low "points" used!

To finish off the dinner itself I'm creating mini-cheesecakes with sugar free cheesecake pudding, created with fat free milk. The "crusts" will be the "Hungry Girl" version of crust using Fiber One cereal. Use the "crust" for the pumpkin pie on the clickable link above. Simply place the crusts in a mini muffin pan, bake and then cool. Once cooled, fill with the sugar free, fat free cheesecake pudding made according to package. Quick and easy and just sweet enough to cleanse the pallette with a cool, refreshing treat!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Time for BROWNIES!

All too often I see posts and blogs about the infamous "No Pudge" brownies and think "Ya know, I'm gonna have to order those". The reality is, ordering food items to stock your shelves via the internet just isn't "real" in my world. I like to run to the store, pick up what I need, shop for savings, etc. and get out. I want it NOW, not later when it comes delivered to my door. Sure, it's got some advantages, no gas, no running, etc. but the mere fact that you can't have something when you want it (NOW) is just such a turn off for me.

So I went on a mission to find store bought brands of similar brownies, fat free. I was quickly and easily surprised on with the first store I hit, Wegmans, when I saw the Krusteaz brand, Fat Free Fudge Brownies. The only ingredient you add is water! Couldn't get any easier than that. One box makes an 8x8 pan, with 16 servings. That's a decent sized 2" square brownie for the mere price of a few weight watcher points! The nutritional values on the box state that one 2" brownie is 120 Calories/0g Fat/0g Fiber, making it double delicious!

I took mine one step further and put some fat free fudge topping (2 Tbls. spread thinly)on top with a few heath bits. When I figured it out in the points finder it added less than one point onto the entire batch of brownies and makes a HUGE difference in how decadent they are! It literally is so sweet and gooey you need a glass of milk with it! Now that's a comfort food moment if I've ever seen one!
You can also add some PB2 to the mix before baking, creating a peanut butter brownie. Of course, you have to add the PB2 points value to the entire batch and divide by 16 (still comes very, very cheap).

So what's my snack for tonight? You guessed it... a decadent, chocolate fudge brownie with fudge topping and heath bits on top. Heck, I might even have TWO!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

An easy way to oven fries... Gourmet style!

I call these little blessings "Oven Fries with Class". Alexia brand potatoes are a dream come true for anyone with even a little "gourmet" in their blood. The quick and easy side dish is one of my favorite "go-to's" and are a staple in my fridge! One serving is 8 potato wedges and with nutritional values of 120 calories/3.5g fat and 2g fiber (each style differs), they come in low on the points scale for the Weight Watcher plan!

The bag I show here are the "Oven Reds" but the varieties are endless with Alexia Oven Fries with Olive Oil, Parmesan & Roasted Garlic (my fave), Alexia Oven Fries with Olive Oil and Sea Salt, Alexia Oven Fries with Olive Oil, Rosemary & Garlic, Alexia Oven Fries with Olive Oil, Sun Dried Tomatoes & Pesto plus a whole lot more! Their Sweet Potato fries are to die for also! One of my absolute faves, salted and then sprinkled with my "Maple Cinnamon Sprinkles" from GFS (Gordon Food Service). These Sweet Treats kill that salty/sweet craving anytime in a point friendly manner! I pick my Alexia Oven Fries up at Wegman's stores locally. Check the Alexia website at to see the styles and nutritional info on each type. They also have an area to check who carries them locally for your area!

These oven style fries favor a "steak fry" style and, when coupled with your favorite frozen veggie, can be a hearty main dish or side dish too! I love to open a bag of frozen cauliflower, toss them into the empty bag the fries came in and shake, place on the cooking sheet with the Alexia fries and bake as directed. The end result is a mixture of nothing but flavor! With little to no effort you have a point friendly addition to your grilled chicken or even the Specialty Diner Meatloaf Muffins I've posted before!

Now THIS is dining!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Our Friend...Mr. 100 Calorie Snack!

I've often said that "portion control" is what's missing in most Americans' lives. I know it was virtually gone out of mine until I made the choice to change my eating habits and began Weight Watchers. All too often we've been duped into believing that we can eat huge portions of a product because it's "low calorie" or "low fat", but the reality is that EVERY box that lists nutritional information lists the portion size for that information and it's often ignored.

The funny part about 100 calorie snack bags is that many of the items, if not prepackaged in a smaller portion size, would be something we'd say "I can't eat that! It's bad for you" if we were to eat it straight out of the box or bag that wasn't portion controlled. A perfect example of this are the Hostess products, delicious cupcakes, Twinkies, and such, that if we were to eat them out of a box we'd probably never buy them when "dieting". The truth is, they're generally the same item, simply portioned out to be 100 calories, sometimes less! I would never buy a box of chocolate cream filled Hostess cupcakes, simply because it's not "healthy" eating BUT repackage those in smaller size, portion controlled packages.. mark them with 100 Calorie Snack on the front and I'm there in line with a couple boxes! It's a matter of convenience and portion control, plain and simple.

Why? First off the pre-proportioned servings make it quick and easy to make sure you're eating only the amount that is suggested. There's no second guessing how many crackers make 3 oz. servings when the bag is already prepared in that size! Secondly, there seems to generally be a consensus of "I can control myself better when I take a single package out and walk away, as opposed to sitting down with the box and trying to eat a 'portion' at my sitting". The ability to have a single portion handy and easy to take with you is a definite plus too and a very good reason to have these little snacks available. For Weight Watcher members, we find these 100 Calorie packages to be a quick snack that's very point friendly. In most cases they are generally the same points, no matter what the items are in the 100 Calorie package and sometimes even less than the average! As always, check the package nutrition information to ensure you are counting your points correctly. I did this with the Hostess cupcakes I so dearly love and was very pleasantly surprised that they're even LOWER than the norm for 100 calorie packs! I was thrilled to see I could actually have one of these snacks for half the points I was counting them for the first time I bought them! Another reason to be sure you check the NI!

So what kinds of 100 Calorie Packs are out there? There's a phenomenal amount available now, giving just about every snacker out there an option for sweet, sour, salty, zesty and more! Since my cravings tend to be more towards the 'sweet' side I tend to purchase more of those. I always keep a few of the salty and zesty types of snacks out there too, just in case!

Here's a few of my faves, feel free to comment and leave a few of your own favorite 100 Calorie Packs and where you purchase them from below!

Hostess 100 Calorie Pack Strawberry Cupcakes or Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes - purchased at most any grocery store including Giant Eagle, Wegmans, Quality, Tops, & even Walgrens.

Hershey's S'Mores Snacksters (Graham Cracker Cereal Squares, mini marshmallows & milk chocolate chips in a snack pack) - I found these at Big Lots but have seen them in the grocery stores also.

Nabisco Oreo Thin Crisps (baked chocolate wafer snacks, not an 'Oreo' as we know it, with no creamy filling but still a good crispy chocolate wafer) - Big Lots had a ton of these I picked up but every grocery store seems to have them too. Watch online for coupons or in your newspaper/magazines as Nabisco often has coupons for these!

Nabisco Oreo Cakesters (mini cake like versions of the Oreo cookie, these servings are very small but a nice change up when you're craving some chocolate or cake like snacks) - Giant Eagle, Wegmans, Tops, Quality, and most any store carry these.

Nabisco Mr. Salty Chocolate Covered Pretzels (these are decadent and a MUST try if you haven't) - again most every grocery store carries these including Wegman's, Giant Eagle & more.

Kraft (the originator of the 100 Calorie packs actually) Cheese Nips (a nice portion controlled size of a snack I cannot stop eating out of the box! Cheese flavored crackers.) - most grocery stores carry these. I have found combined Kraft 100 Calorie packs at GFS & Big Lots for a substantial cost savings. These combined packs carry the Cheese Nip packs, Lorna Doone Shortbread packs and another item I can't recall!

Kelloggs Keebler Fudge Shoppe Grasshopper Fudge Dipped Mint Cookies (simply a portion controlled version of the much loved Keebler Mint Cookies and definitely give the ol' "Thin Mint" cookie a run for it's money! I love to add these to my Weight Watcher chocolate smoothies mix for a blizzard style treat that makes Dairy Queen's former Girl Scout Blizzard with Thin Mints "minty green" with envy! I served these on St. Patty's Day to friends and family at my St. Patty's party and everyone thought they were "regular food" as they tend to call it, instead of a Weight Watcher style food! - These are generally found in most any grocery store and also in large packs with a mixture of 2 other Keebler style cookie packs.

Jolly Time 100 Calorie Microwave Popcorn - (huge amount of popcorn for a very filling snack - if you have the extra calories or points to use add a Tablespoon of grated parm cheese) - K-Mart, Wegman's, WalMart & most any store carry the Jolly Time 100 Calorie popcorn.

International Foods 100 Calorie Mocha Cappuccino - a wonderful thing for those who just cannot give up that daily cappuccino - I found mine at Giant Eagle and Wegman's

Please remember though, while the 100 Calorie packs are great treats, they should never take the place of a more nutritional, healthy treat such as fruits and veggies! This is the biggest problem with the 100 calorie pack treats, many are foregoing healthier snacks and turning to these yummy, quick and accountable alternatives.

Want to take the 100 Calorie treat even farther and create your own 100 Calorie or less "snacks"? This is a definite cost saver too! Here are some ideas:
  • 1/4 Cup fat free Ranch dressing with veggies
  • 1 small baked potato with 1/2 cup salsa and 2 tablespoons of fat-free sour cream
  • 1/2 apple with 2 teaspoons of peanut butter on it
  • 9 Tootsie roll midgees
  • 40 classic thin pretzel sticks
  • 15 strawberries with 1/4 cup lite Cool Whip
  • 5 Nabisco Nilla Wafers
  • 60 Pepperidge Farm baby gold fish crackers
  • 1 Laughing Cow lite cheese wedge and 3 Nabisco Triscuit crackers
  • 17 Special K crackers (these come in some great flavors)
  • 1 Medium Banana
  • 10 Spelt Pretzels with 1 Tablespoon of Sunspire brand grain-sweetened chocolate chips
  • 2 oz. lean roast beef wrapped in a lettuce leaf - this is a great protein burst if you're craving beef
  • 5 Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Drops
  • 1/2 Cup Frosted Mini Wheats (this is a great sweet tooth and crunchy craving killer)
  • 1/2 Cup sweetened Applesauce or 1 Cup un-sweetened
  • 2 slices cooked bacon (wrapped in a lettuce leaf with a slice of tomato it's awesome!)
  • 10 Jelly beans
  • 1/3 Cup frozen sherbet

Taking any of the above mentioned items and pre-packaging it for a quick and easy snack is best. It saves you having to measure out when you're on the run or being tempted to grab more than the 100 calorie serving allows for!

Hints & Tips:
  • I keep a bag hanging in my kitchen stuffed with 2 point snacks (weight watchers program). This allows for quick and easy access to a proper portioned snack that I know instantly how much it "costs".
  • Clip Coupons for all those snack pre-portioned items. They can be very expensive in comparison to the non-portioned equal product but with coupons they can come out a lot cheaper!
  • Check the website of the companies that offer the snack items you love. They often run coupons and even free samples!

Loaded Potato Skins & still losing weight?

Anyone who loves potatoes knows that the loaded potato skin is the best thing since, well since potatoes themselves! But are they off limits if you're trying to lose weight? HECK NO!

One of my favorite side dishes and sometimes even "main dish" is the all time favorite recipe, tweaked to be more figure friendly! No, you don't have to load them with only veggies, honest!

GFS (Gordon Food Service) is one of my favorite places to shop. They offer great prices on items in large quantities (much like Sam's Club) but without the cost of a membership. Many restaurants use this place (since that was where it's original roots were, was to service the food service industry). Shopping there makes it very affordable and easy to re-create restaurant favorite dishes at a fraction of the price AND a fraction of the fat & calories! One of my favorite purchases there are the potato skins. At about $10 a bag, with 50 servings, you can make tons of potato yumminess! Each skin has nutritional values of : 80 cal./0g Fat/3g Fiber, making them very point friendly for those doing Weight Watchers, like me!

So what can you put on your potato skins to make them yummy? Some of my favorite toppings include low fat cheddar, 1/2 slice or even fat free shredded cheddar melts well on these. I also like to use 1/4-1/2 tsp. olive oil on each to give them a little moistness AND get in my daily counts of essential oils. Fat free sour cream is a must! Chives, dried or fresh add a nice little zing. My daughter loves bacon bits on them, just a few. Broccoli and cheddar are another favorite at our house! A few "real" bacon bits always add some zip, again in small quantities they add a ton of flavor! Don't forget to use all those spices you have in your cupboard too! A sprinkle of garlic powder, rosemary, dill, or Italian seasonings really give your potatoes some flavor!

The best part is, everything you used to enjoy on those loaded potato skins at the restaurant can be found in better choice versions for your skins at home! And with a bag of 50, you can invite those friends to hang out at your place, play some guitar hero and eat up! Nobody will even guess that your version of these yummy appetizers are good for them!

Friday, April 3, 2009

A touch of YUMMY in this snack!

I recently saw some Fiber One bars on sale at the market the other day and like most people on Weight Watchers we tend to love anything Fiber One makes because all that fiber helps keep the points low on the item! I decided to grab a few boxes but wasn't sure what I was in the mood for until I spotted a caramel drizzled bar that looked pretty good. I figured at $2 a box it was a good deal and would give me a little sweet treat to add to my "2 Point Box" of goodies I keep on the counter for quick fixes!

If you are looking for something so wonderfully sweet and rich it curls your toes... this is your bar!!!! The Fiber One Oats & Caramel bar is simply divine! Nutritional Info of 140 Cal/3.5g fat/9g fiber for one bar, it's a very point friendly choice! Google the product and you can find coupons for $1 off also, at least right now! So don't hesitate..... run to the store and grab a couple boxes! You won't be sorry! The only problem I have with these at my house is keeping even the NON-Weight watcher piggies away! LOL

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sharing an Awesome Meatloaf Recipe

All too often when people "diet", they feel beef is totally off limits! You couldn't be more WRONG! First step, stop using the word "diet"... I use it in my blogs because that's what seems to be the thinking process of most who are trying to lose weight. Instead, use the word "lifestyle" or "healthy eating". It's a change in lifestyle, not something you do for a few months and then go back to your unhealthy eating habits.

Choosing the proper types of "beef" is the first step. The lower the fat, the better and never settle for anything less than 90% Fat Free or a ration of 90/10 on the food label. I personally have begun choosing irradiated beef from Wegmans. Before I looked into it I was clueless what this meant but after so many ground beef scares I decided to see what it truly meant and it's much more simple than you would think.

Originally I thought the words "irradiated beef" meant they put chemicals and such into it for some strange reason. After researching I found that this technique insures, chemical free, that no food borne diseases/germs/bacterias can live inside the ground meat. This means a safer meat for me and my family.

Choosing this style of beef not only allows me to use the ground beef without fear of E-Coli and other bacteria or germs but it provides instant "portion" control with a prepackaged 1 pound "chub", that easily freezes and thaws without all the mess of other packaged meats in those nasty Styrofoam packages! I know that cutting the package in half means 8 oz. of ground beef or using the entire package and getting 4 servings means 4 oz. per serving!

Here's a very informative article on beef irradiation:
The article gives both sides of the story and explains what and how beef irradiation occurs. Take time to read it, it will open your eyes to the beef industry and WHY, perhaps for now, you may want to choose irradiated beef too. But I digress....

Now, one of my most favorite ground beef recipes that help with portion control and keeping that beef craving at version of Diner Meatloaf Muffins. This is not a recipe I created but one that I "tweaked" to fit my new "Weight WatcherR" lifestyle! It rocks! They make awesome "meatloaf sandwiches" wedged between Arnold's Sandwich ThinsR too! And, put 2 in a freezer bag for an instant and easy microwavable dinner for one! Now if that's not comfort food at it's best, nothing is!

Specialty Diner Meatloaf Muffins

1 cup chopped onion (about 1 small onion)
1 cup chopped carrot (about 6-8 fingerling carrots)
1/4 cup chopped green pepper (about 1/2 a pepper)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon minced garlic (I use the jar minced garlic)
1 cup ketchup, divided
1 1/2 pounds ground beef, extra lean (raw) 90/10
34 finely crushed Special K Italian Tomato & Herb CrackersR
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°. Place the onion, carrot, green pepepr,dried oregano, and minced garlic in blender or food processor. Pulse until mixture is fine but not mushy. Add onion mixture, 1/2 cup ketchup, and the remaining ingredients except cooking spray in a large bowl with raw meat. Spoon the meat mixture into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Top each with 2 teaspoons ketchup.

Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160°. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2 "muffins")

Nutritional Information for ORIGINAL recipe:

CALORIES 276 (28% from fat); FAT 8.6g (sat 3g,mono 4g,poly 0.8g); PROTEIN 28.7g; CHOLESTEROL 131mg; CALCIUM 48mg; SODIUM 759mg; FIBER 1.8g; IRON 3.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 21.7g

* Information will be slightly more pointR friendly using the ingredients I used but fairly even in nutritional value. I kept the NI so you can figure "pointsR" easier as it is illegal for me to post a point value.

Original recipe from Cooking LightTM, MARCH 2006 and edited/changed by me to fit my tastes and program.

*Note: I'm not a huge veggie lover and putting carrots in my meatloaf is something I'd never really do... but honestly, by putting them in the blender/food processor you can't even tell they are in the meatloaf AND help add some veggies to your meal without anyone knowing... even YOU! It also helps hold some moisture in the meatloaf muffins. Believe me, nobody will ever know you snuck veggies in!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Keepin On Program

You often don't realize how hard it is to stay on program and eat right until you're hit with a holiday or a family gathering! With Easter right around the corner I'm bombarded daily with little foiled, delicate spring colored treats that would cost an arm and a leg in points on Weight Watchers! What can you do when you're a person that loves sweets so much, but don't want to gain the weight back? Time to get creative!

Some of my favorite treats I've found, low in points, that keep me feeling FAR from being abused while others munch away happily.....

Sugar Free Peeps (1) - 3 peeps are 1 serving and @ about 99 cents a package they're cheap to keep around. Stick a few in your desk, your cupboard, your car and grab a pack to nibble on when those sugary cravings are just killing you! I've found them at every grocery store locally and WalMart. Also, most drug stores carry them too.. .but stock up as they won't be around after Easter!

Yoplait Light Cinnamon Bun Yogurt (2) - This yogurt is absolutely to die for! It's a newer flavor & often harder to find but it's worth the trek to a few stores to look! They're just sweet and creamy enough to make you feel like you've been terribly bad, while not taking a ton of points to fulfill your craving! Our local Super WalMarts seem to be carrying them a lot. Giant Eagle stores have them sometimes locally also.

Hostess 100 Calorie Pack Minis (1) - I was completely amazed at the point value of these little treats! 3 small mini muffin/cupcakes per package for 100 calories. They're a super low point treat that just screams sugary deliciousness! They simply rock! I've found them cheapest at WalMart but most of the other grocery stores carry them too. My fave is the strawberry cupcakes, with the chocolate ones running a very close second!

So while others are loading up candy dishes on the desks or filling up Easter baskets with goodies that will be adding inches to their hips, YOU can stay on program and continue to lose weight while enjoying some sweet treats too!

It's not impossible to enjoy food that tastes good and seems "bad for you" but isn't! I've had a weight loss every week I've been on the Weight Watcher's program so far and I'm rarely unable to fulfill a craving I'm having. So just remember... where there's a will, there's a way!

Keep Getting Healthy!