Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cajun Ranch Chicken Salad

Today was a rainy, dreary day in Erie so I decided to do a little creative indoor grilling for the son and I for lunch. He was thrilled with the results (I always love when I make it healthy & he doesn't say "This is tasteless like healthy food") & I even re-created the chicken itself for my older daughter's dinner (she works odd shifts) in sandwich form!
Grilled Cajun Ranch Chicken Salad (5)

Salad Mix *as much as u want 2 make your salad as big as u want (0)
2 oz. chicken breast (boneless, skinless) (2)
1/2 tsp. Cajun Seasoning (I buy generic brands but use your fave) (0)
1/2 tsp. Ranch Seasoning (I get mine in at GFS but you can also use Ranch dry mix) (0)
1 oz. Fat Free Feta Cheese (1)
1 oz. Fat Free Cheddar - shredded (1)
7 Special K Crackers (I use roasted tomato usually) - crumbled (1)
Fat Free Italian Dressing (I use Wegman's FF Italian Parmesan) (0)

First place chicken breast on indoor grill. Season with ranch seasoning & cajun seasoning. Grill until juices run clear. Larger breasts can be used if you're really hungry, I tend to buy smaller half breasts, which run about 2-2 1/2 oz. total.

In the mean time mix up the rest of ingredients in your bowl. You can add tomatoes, onions, green peppers, etc. without adding any points so go for it! The "Special K" Crackers I use in place of croutons, they add so much more flavor & are only 1 pt, 2 if you put 17 in the salad.

Cut chicken into medium sized chunks. Place on top of salad fixins!

Top with dressing (FF Ranch is also great with this)

Total time to make: 12 Minutes
Serves 1 (easily doubled, tripled, etc. to feed the family)


Who Else Helps me get healthy?

1. Weight Loss With The Fabulous Fatties
2. HK Weighs In
3. BKJen

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sharing some ONLINE recipes

Today's blog I'm going to share some great recipes I've found online.

Here's a great Squash & Tomato Bake for 2 pts per serving! BHG's blog offers up the entire recipe & it couldn't be easier! While BHG says it's a great "side dish", why not make it the main course & double up the recipe?

Of course, what "Weight Watcher" would be a tried 'n true WW if we didn't check their site for great ideas & recipes?

Here's one of my absolute favorite recipes, any time of year: Baked Potato Soup I even lower the points a bit by using the fat free sour cream in the recipe (replacing low fat) & sometimes even a fat free shredded cheddar.

Hungry Girl is everyone's favorite, ok maybe not EVERYONE but anyone that knows this is a life change and you are never going to go your entire life with never touching a "yummy bad for you food"! If she can make something that "used to be" bad for you, into something not so bad, why not?! Here's one of my faves, her fabulous fudge, but let me warn you the pieces are small (36 pieces from an 8x8 size pan) AND control is the issue with these. I usually make these if I'm going to a "bring a dish" type deal. They are only 1 pt per piece, so you can afford to grab 2 or 3!

With summer here we all love to grill out. I tweak the HG version of this Teriyaki Burger, adding 1 extra point by using 95% FF beef instead of the Boca Burger, but for those who don't mind Boca's go for it! The toppings are what make the burger & let me tell you, you will have everyone asking for these babies again!

Another summer favorite of mine is a creation from Kraft. I make these in my crockpot instead of my grill, quite often, just to save time. At 3 pts these BBQ Chicken Packets are to die for, from the grill, the oven or the crockpot. Either way, they are great & your family will love them. They're also great to make for when company comes over, just grab a packet and your dinner is there! Add your sides & off you go! Easy clean up, great flavor!

So there's just a few of my internet favorites that I utilize often on the Weight Watcher plan! As always, check your points with any changes you make to the recipe! All of the recipes do have full cal/fat/fiber listed so you can figure out points yourself too!

Share some of your favorites from the net!

Keep up the great work and get healthier with each & every new day!


Who Else Helps me get healthy?

1. Weight Loss With The Fabulous Fatties
2. HK Weighs In
3. BKJen

Sunday, June 21, 2009

It's all in the numbers... or is it?

Everyone starts their "DIET" with numbers. I weigh this much, I need to lose this much, I've lost this much..... all NUMBERS.

But what if we ignored those? What would happen?

Sure, we wouldn't be CERTAIN of how much we've lost exactly BUT we would, instead be rewarded with how much better we feel! We would KNOW by the way we feel if we lost. We could tell by the way our jeans fit, our shirts hung on us, where our belts fastened.

We'd quickly learn that DIETING is a temporary fix, based on numbers while HEALTHY LIFESTYLE is a change in habits & LIFE, resulting in feeling better & ultimately in obtaining a much healthier weight.

Healthy Lifestyle is a lifelong option. Dieting is simply, a temporary fix.

Don't get me wrong, we often NEED the numbers to keep us "honest". I can quite often think I've "eaten healthy" this week, ignored keeping track of what went in my mouth, and convinced myself I remained "on program" so I'm sure I didn't gain. BUT the truth of the matter is, you know by the feel of your body if you've remained "healthy". I will get on the scales that week, have a gain and go "ok, I knew I screwed up" or I'll feel like my stomach is going to fall out one end or the other of my body & think "yup, I knew I shouldn't have eaten that". BUT remember too that NUMBERS lie. Yes, they do my friend. NOT ALWAYS, but sometimes. You might stay on track for healthy eating and have no weight loss. You may have worked out like a mad man/woman and seen no change in the numbers on the scale. You may have eaten the world's largest hot fudge sundae with chocolate chip cookies & whipped cream and "gotten away with it" according to the scale this week. BUT believe me, in the end our body knows what we've done & it will let us know eventually... even if it's AFTER the fact!

That grumbling belly after you scoffed a fast food "chicken because it's healthier - NOT" sandwich & a "few" fries doesn't happen because your body is saying "Thanks my friend, now I'm full & satisfied"! That grumbling belly is a result of eating poorly & your body asking "What the heck are you thinking you moron?" and it quickly tells you that you are NOT eating healthy.

Nobody is perfect. We all have cravings, down moments, binge eating (hopefully lessening as we progress with our healthy lifestyle.. I know mine has) or stress eating that completely obliterates our "HEALTHY" lifestyle option we've chosen to go for. We are not perfect. Did I mention that? But remember this.... we are PERFECTLY in control of our life. WE can decide how often we make bad choices, how good we feel after making good choices and how often we decide to do either.

Sometimes we just need to make that bad choice. That's ok, just don't start depending on that bad choice to make you feel better or take away the pain of something else. Instead, find a GOOD choice to depend upon for that.

A weight loss is always "great" for most of us but what we need to focus on is not the numbers... not how much we've LOST or GAINED (although pay attention to that one first because continuous gains will definitely make us feel poorly) but instead on how great we feel making good decisions about our lifestyle & eating options.

But we also have to be honest with ourselves & decide that just because we made ONE good choice, it is not an open ticket to make several poor choices now. Outnumber the bad choices in your life.... from your food choices, to your acquaintance choices, to your life choices in general and I guarantee you will feel better about your life as a whole!

So start this week out by saying "I won't focus on the numbers as much as I focus on listening to my body about how it feels after I put something in my mouth". The end result, your body usually will NOT lie to you if you listen with open ears, mind & honesty in your heart!

Stay healthy this week!

Who Else Helps me get healthy?

1. Weight Loss With The Fabulous Fatties
2. HK Weighs In
3. BKJen

Friday, June 19, 2009

Chicken Cordon Bleu

One of my favorite foods is Chicken Cordon Bleu but trying to lose weight means lower fat, lower cal, lower taste, right?! WRONG! Check out this awesome version of the formerly HIGH cal, HIGH fat entree! Now it's LOW fat, LOW cal & LOW in points!

Add a big serving of broccoli, steamed or some potatoes & a salad. You have a nice meal!

Of course you can make as many of these as needed for your family, all the same way. It's simple, fairly quick and sooooo delish! Friends and family will swear it's the standard version, only you'll know it's a little healthier!

Chicken Cordon Bleu Lite Style (5)
(serves 1) - recipe can be made into as many servings as needed

One 5-oz. raw boneless skinless lean chicken breast cutlet
1 wedge The Laughing Cow Light Original Swiss cheese, room temperature
1 oz. (about 3 slices) 97 - 98% fat-free ham slices
salt and black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put chicken in a large zippered plastic bag, squeeze out as much air
as you can, and seal. Using a meat tenderizer or a can, carefully
pound chicken through the bag until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Remove
chicken from the bag, and season to taste with salt and pepper on both

Lay the chicken flat and spread the cheese wedge over it. Evenly layer
the ham slices on top of the cheese. Starting with one of the longer
sides (or any side, if it's square), tightly roll up the chicken
breast cutlet, and secure with toothpicks.

Place chicken roll in a baking dish lined with foil and/or sprayed
with nonstick spray, and then cover the baking dish with foil.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the foil covering
the dish. Continue to bake (uncovered) for an additional 15 minutes,
or until chicken is cooked through. Enjoy!

Serving Size: 1 chicken cordon bleu (entire recipe)
Calories: 222
Fat: 4.5g
Sodium: 692mg
Carbs: 2g
Fiber: 0g
Sugars: 1g
Protein: 40g

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Crockpot Cheeseburger Soup (5)

Weekends provide an array of "What's for dinner" issues at my house as I have 3 teens with 3 different schedules. I will often use my crockpot for situations like this. Here's one of my favorite "go to" recipes.

I cannot take responsibility for the recipe itself. I acquired it a few years ago, probably from a friend or an online internet group who shares recipes.

What I love most is the "comfort food" style of the soup, the ease of making it and the nice low point value if you're doing "Weight Watchers"!

Slow-Cooker Cheeseburger Soup (5)

NI: Cals: 250 Fat: 3 Fiber: 1
Servings: 8


2 spray(s) cooking spray
1 medium garlic clove(s), minced
1 medium onion(s), chopped
1 medium stalk(s) celery, chopped (I omit this)
1 pound(s) uncooked lean ground beef (with 7% fat) (I use 5% fat content, which lowers the points)
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 cup(s) canned chicken broth, divided
1 cup(s) low-fat evaporated milk
8 oz Kraft Velveeta Light Reduced-Fat Pasteurized Processed Cheese Product, or similar product, cubed
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp table salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
24 item(s) baked low-fat tortilla chips, crumbled

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat for about 30 seconds. Add garlic, onion and celery to skillet; cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Coat a 3-quart or larger slow cooker with cooking spray; spoon in vegetables.

Place same skillet over medium-high heat and brown beef, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon as it cooks, about 5 to 6 minutes; pour off any liquid and add meat to slow cooker.

In a small cup, combine flour and 1/2 cup of broth; stir until lump-free. Pour flour mixture into same skillet; add remaining 2 1/2 cups of broth. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits in bottom of skillet with a wooden spoon, and then pour into slow cooker; stir in evaporated milk, cheese, paprika, salt and pepper. Cover slow cooker and cook on low setting for 2 hours. Serve soup topped with crumbled chips.

Yields about 3/4 cup of soup and 3 tablespoons of chips per serving.

If the soup cooks too long, the cheese could separate. If that happens, combine 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour and 1/4 cup of soup in a cup; stir to a paste. Stir flour mixture back into soup in slow cooker; cover and cook on low setting for 10 to 15 minutes

I also sometimes add broccoli to the soup, creating a bit of a broccoli/cheese style soup. I will also sometimes replace the "chips" with homemade croutons, created with diet 1pt. bread, toasted with herbs in the broiler. This makes it easier to count the points as you know how many croutons you cut from each piece!

Who Else Helps me get healthy?

1. Weight Loss With The Fabulous Fatties
2. HK Weighs In
3. BKJen

Monday, June 8, 2009

Chicken Taco Casserole (4)

This is one of my family's favorite casserole dishes and so easy to make. I'm known as "The Casserole Queen" by my kids, coming from some very tight times when I was first diagnosed with MS and battling cancer at the same time, not working and having no income. I could make a casserole out of some pretty amazing things!

This one is not my own work, it's one I played with after joining Weight Watcher's because we loved it so much I had to figure out a way to make it healthier & better for us but not lose the flavor! Bisquick, the reduced fat version, is one of my favorite casserole helpers too!

Chicken Taco Casserole (4)
8 servings

1 lb ground chicken breast skinless*
1 1/4 C fat-free milk
1/2 C onions, chopped
3/4 C egg whites, slightly beaten
1/2 c bell peppers, chopped
3/4 c low-fat baking mix (bisquick makes a reduced fat mix)
1 1/4 ozs taco seasoning mix
4 ozs Monterey Jack cheese, shredded *Use the Cabot brand reduced fat jalapeno cheddar cheese for even fewer calories/fat, shred it yourself or slice it up thin (that's what I do)
4 ozs canned green chiles, diced

Preheat oven to 400F.
Prepare a 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray; set aside.
In a skillet, cook chicken, onions, and bell peppers until chicken is no longer pink. Stir in seasoning mix.
Spread into prepared dish.
Sprinkle with chiles.
In a small bowl, combine milk, egg whites, and baking mix.
Mix until smooth.
Pour over chiles in dish.

Bake for 25 minutes.
Top with cheese.
Bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese has melted.
Cool five minutes before serving.

*can add a dollop of fat free sour cream on top, don't forget to add the points for it!

Nutritional Info per serving (8 servings total)
Calories 203
Total Fat 6 g* (less if you use the Cabot cheese!)
Fiber 1 g

Use your imagination with this! If your family loves broccoli, add some broccoli to the dish! If they like a "Southwestern" touch, a can of corn can add a little flavor! Just remember to add points if needed but generally if it's a veggie, no points are added but extra flavor and texture is!

Rather than purchasing "ground chicken", which often is NOT all white meat and can be higher in fat, put 3 single chicken breasts in your food processor to make ground chicken. It works really well. I also seasoned the chicken while it was cooking with salt, pepper and garlic. To make it easier, grind up chicken after cooking.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dieting on a Budget: Gadgets & Appliances

I have a very limited income & am a divorced/single mother to 3 teens. This being said, we all know that healthy eating is often the most expensive way to go. While many comment "oh you can afford to eat healthy if you really want to", they generally are not feeding a family or live in an area where fresh produce is quite affordable due to climate.

I'm a real person, on a "less than" real budget, in an area that gets very thankful with 2 months of summer!

One of the best ways I've found to cut costs getting and staying healthy is by purchasing my appliances (small) and gadgets used. Some of my most recent finds I list below. Hope you enjoy!

Gadgets & Appliances

Nearly everything I own in the kitchen gadget or small appliance wise has been purchased used. I am picky about "how" used it is and won't just take something because it's cheap! What have I found? Oh you would be surprised! I've listed the most recent buys off the top of my head, with pics when available easily!

  • Juicer - listed on a local recycle/garage sale type list from Yahoo, my 450 watt GE Juicer was literally used once! Came in the box, with all info, including the warranty card to send in! Cost: $20 Estimated Value New: $70-$90 MINIMUM SAVED: $50

    My juicer is my newest "toy" and I've loved making fresh juices. I spend a lot on Naked Juice, which I'm not complaining about because I LOVE them, and was hoping to eliminate some of the cost by creating my own "Naked" juices at home. I can't come close, but they're still good & it's a work in progress. My issue here is that fresh fruit is very expensive unless "in season" and "in season" in the Northeastern region of the U.S. is not a long time!

  • Blender - while blenders can be a fairly inexpensive small appliance at WalMart, I purchased mine at my favorite consignment store & have been using it for about a year now! My Hamilton Beach 14 Speed BlendMaster has been my Smoothie Savior! Cost: $5 Estimated Value New: $40-$70 MINIMUM SAVED: $35

    I use my blender mainly for smoothies. My preference seems to be the Weight Watcher brand smoothie mix, blended with water. I add fruits or fruit juices sometimes for a change up in flavor.

    Some of my faves using the chocolate smoothie mix: Chocolate Peanut Butter(2) (using reduced fat PB), Chocolate Banana(3) (using a frozen banana), and Chocolate Oreo(3) (using the 100 calorie packs of Oreo thins)

    Some of my faves using the mixed berry smoothie mix: Berry Banana(3) (using a frozen banana), Mango Berry(3) (using fresh Mango juice from my juicer)

  • Toaster Oven - My Black & Decker toaster oven was a real find. Still in the box, new, & reduced to 1/2 off! Again, found at my favorite consignment/used store locally, I'm happy I found it because I use it often! Cost: $5 Estimated Value New: $40-$50 MINIMUM SAVED: $35

    I love to make toasted English Muffins with fat free feta and fat free salsa on top(2) in my toaster oven! Yum-o! I also use it often to create toasted cheese sandwiches(2) (easily created with a spray of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray on each side and a low fat cheese in between 2 slices of 1pt bread.) Add a toasted cheese to a big bowl of tomato soup and there's a comfort meal that will rock my socks off! I rarely use it to simply make toast, that's what the toaster is for silly, but I do use it often to make quick snacks or meals especially if my kids aren't around!
  1. Wait to find items on sale, even if you absolutely MUST have something, you've done this long without it! Wait it out!

  2. Find the item you'd like to have "used", via consignment/used stores or online locally with groups such as Recycler or YardSale groups. Paying the extra shipping costs for most small appliances online from e-bay make it nearly as expensive, sometimes more than purchasing the item new!

  3. Find knock-off versions of the items you like. I purchased, used, a Foreman Style grill which in the end was 100x better than the real thing, and a lot cheaper! I use it so much that I'd be embarrassed to take a pic of it to show you! But let me tell you, it works as well as, no BETTER THAN the real brand name. It was actually made BEFORE Foreman even brought his grill out!
Next round I'll list some great inexpensive meals, treats & food ideas that can be found in various stores. Of course, I won't have the same stores as everyone else but perhaps you can talk you local versions of the grocery store into carrying some of the items I mention!

As always, feel free to comment on how YOU make being healthy cheaper and easier for you and your family!