Sunday, May 10, 2009

Broccoli Casserole

3 c. chopped broccoli, fresh or frozen
1 tbsp. + 2 tsp. light butter, divided
1/4 c. finely chopped onion
3 tbsp. plain flour
1 1/4 c. skim milk
1 3/4 c. cooked rice, lightly salted
4 oz. shredded fat free cheddar cheese
1/4 c. non fat mayonnaise
1/3 c. crushed unsalted Melba toast (about 5), or dry bread crumbs
Cook broccoli until crisp tender. Drain. Melt 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon butter; add onion and saute. Add flour and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Continue cooking until thick and bubbly, about 2 minutes.

Combine broccoli, milk mixture, rice, cheese and mayonnaise and mix well. Spoon into a shallow 2 quart casserole sprayed with Pam.

Combine remaining butter and bread crumbs and sprinkle over mixture. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. 170 calories per serving.

Vidalia Onion Season Here I Come!

I am a confessed "non" fruits and veggies eater. Long story short it stems from growing up with a father who had an illness that didn't truly allow the fresh fruits and veggies to be eaten. For that reason we rarely had them around and I, obviously, didn't develop a taste for them. I don't blame anyone for this faux pas, I see it as a reason for my dislike and often confusion when it comes to Striving for Five but I also see it as a clean slate to learn HOW to eat fruits and veggies.

Something I find quite useful in my quest to learn how to eat my 5 a day is a printout offered by Wegman's. It's called Fruit Veggie Cup Calories. A wonderful little quick fix when shopping or looking for the best options and comes in pdf format.

Wegman's stores are my favorite place to get my fresh fruits and veggies. I've rarely, if ever, been disappointed in anything I've purchased there. Many other grocery stores here locally haven't been so wonderful, often offering produce that has little to no flavor, too ripe or over ripened and even "rotted" on the inside produce that left me feeling ripped off. I've never had that happen at Wegmans, so I stay there! Sure, I'll pop into some of the local produce stands but face it, here in Erie, PA the growing season is truly remarkably short and a good 1/2 of the produce some of these little stands have are actually shipped in bulk to them for resale. Our strawberries, corn on the cob, squashes, potatoes, etc. are generally grown locally and I don't mind buying them from the local farmers at all but things like melons and various fruits in particular are often not a locally grown item! Knowing that Wegman's has a large system in place to provide the most produce possible at greatest quality & as often as possible from local farmers is enough for me!

May and June bring the OH SO LOVED Vidalia® Onion! These are, by far, the best onion you will EVER eat in my book! And yes... "Vidalia" is a registered trademark! And we all thought it was just where they were grown!?

My favorite way to use vidalias® are simple.... saute' them up in a little olive oil, some sea salt & cracked pepper. Cook up a huge batch, place in the fridge for instant gratification to any dish! Place these babies on a slice of toasted bread of any type and you have an instant sweet, mouth watering delight. Add them to a burger, a grilled chicken breast or a toasted cheese sandwich and you are in heaven!

Toasted Cheesy Vidalia Sandwich (4)

Yes, a toasted cheese sandwich and YES it's points friendly with reduced fat sharp cheddar (2), diet bread (1) and all the sauteed vidalias® you can pile in between, grilled on your indoor style grill with a spray of ICBNB or my fave 1 tsp. olive oil for a pannini style (1) to keep it from sticking! Add that to a cup of creamy tomato soup made with skim milk (1) and you can die a happy eater all for under 6 points!

Va-Va-Va-Voom Vidalia Chicken (4)

3-4 large vidalia onions, halved and sliced
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
4 frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts
sea salt
cracked fresh pepper
1/2 Cup fat free chicken broth
1 tsp. flour

Spread olive oil in fry pan and add Balsamic vinegar,& vidalia onions. Cook on med/high heat until clear & slightly browned, stirring often. Add flour, stirring to make a "roux", slightly thicker & golden brown.

Add fresh ground sea salt & cracked fresh pepper to taste.

Add chicken broth, stirring. Heat until bubbling. Add chicken breasts on top of onions, cover and cook on low heat for 10 minutes.

Push onion mixture around to come on top of chicken; leaving chicken on bottom of pan, covered in onions. Increase heat to medium/high. Cover and keep a close eye on it so as not to burn onions. Cook until juices run clear from chicken (generally 20 min). Serve with 1/4 of the onions on top of each breast.

Great side dish, baked potato. I serve my chicken and onions right on top of the potato!

Some other Great Vidalia Onion Recipes From Other Sites

The Vidalia Onion Site - Recipes

(not always WW friendly but many can be easily tweaked to come out quite point friendly in the end!)

Onion Tart

Cooks.Com has Tons of Vidalia Recipes
(again, not always WW friendly, but tweak them to work!)

Life Line to Water!

A huge part of creating a healthy body is learning to keep your body nourished and replenished. Water is a big part of that replenishing.

Did You Know?
"Because most food contains a large amount of water, you obtain approximately 3 1/2 cups from what is eaten over the course of a day. Interestingly, the body's metabolism itself is another source, since -- as it makes and uses energy -- one of its daily byproducts is about 1/2 cup of water. So, if you add up your losses (two cups for the lungs, two for sweating, and six for the intestines and kidneys), you come up with a total loss of ten cups ... not counting any excess lost through perspiration during exercise. Therefore, taking into account the approximately four cups provided by food and metabolism, the average person needs to drink six to eight cups of water daily just to keep functioning well."
-- Mother Earth News
I will be the first to tell you, I am not a fan of drinking water. Plain ol' tasteless water over and over, quart by quart, all day long?! Paaahlease!!!!

But I finally found something that helps me get my water in and doesn't load up on empty calories and flavorings. What I like most about it is that there is a hint of flavor, but not overwhelming like drinking a Kool-Aid® type drink.

Sobe® Life Water (0 cal) has truly become one of my best friends! There's Fuji Apple Pear, Black and Blue Berry and a Yumberry Pomegranate currently available in my area.

I used to be known for always carrying around a huge diet Pepsi® with me no matter where I went. I was never without it. Now, I'm the "Life Water Queen" and I have to admit, losing 6 lbs. in one week just by giving up that bloating diet soda was well worth it! Not to mention I now have something that truly quenches my thirst available at my side 99% of the time!

And, locally at least, the stores have been running wild sales on the stuff! What used to cost $1.79 a bottle in most places has been on sale for $1 a bottle at Target, Tops, Circle K Stores (local chain I think), Kwik Fill & Country Fair Stores, and more! So stock up (not that I can do this because I can buy 20 at a time and they're gone in a day with 3 teens and me!) and become addicted to something that really helps you lose the weight! You might find that getting in 8+ glasses of water a day isn't so tough any more!

Here's some good reading and fact finding info on water and your body... via the net!

Lemon Lavender Pound Cake

Ahh, pound cake... the name itself says "weight added" but what if we could create a lighter, yet still delicious version? Look no more! I found a Lemon Lavender Pound Cake recipe that was "re-worked" to be "slightly" lighter in Woman's World magazine but that's never enough for me... so I re-worked it again and came up with an even friendlier point version! Original recipe (8), their re-make of the original version (5), my version (4).

This is one of those "special" cakes that you create when you have a lazy summer day with friends in the yard and need just a little something extra. Nobody will even guess it's a low cal, low fat version and the "lavender" makes it just a touch eclectic, or gourmet! It honestly isn't that hard either. The hardest part is "straining" the lavender out of the milk before using! (I use cheesecloth)

Lemon Lavender Half-Pound Cake (4)

1 1/2 Cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 Cup Splenda® Sugar Blend (NOT REGULAR SPLENDA®)
1/2 Cup I Can't Believe It's Not Butter 70% Vegetable Oil Spread
1/2 Cup reduced fat Sour cream (fat free makes this too chewy)
1/4 Cup Egg Substitute (Works better than just egg whites equivalent)
1/4 Cup + 1 Tbs. Skim (fat free) milk
2 Tbs grated lemon zest
1 tsp. dried edible lavender (McCormick's has a great product line if you don't have your own)
2/3 Cup confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)

Preheat Oven to 350F
Spray 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" LOAF pan with cooking spray and dusting flour.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt & baking soda; set aside.

On medium-high speed, beat Splenda Blend & ICBINB (margarine) until blended. Add sour cream, egg substitute and 1/4 cup milk. Beat until combined. Add reserved flour mixture & beat until fluffy.

Stir in lemon zest.

Transfer mix to baking pan & bake 35 minutes or until center comes out clean when toothpick is inserted.

Cool IN pan for 10 minutes, then flip onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Once cake is completely cool it can be frosted:

Heat 1 Tbs. milk and lavender in small saucepan, careful not to scorch! Remove from heat and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain & discard lavender.

In small bowl, mix confectioners' sugar & lavender milk until smooth.

Place cake on plate & pour "glaze" over cooled cake.

Serves 12
Each Serving approx. nutritional value:
Cal 186, Fat 7g, Fiber 1g