Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Power-Packed Pumpkin Smoothie

Here is a great after-workout snack, full of protein and vitamins and a bit of fibre.  This smoothie is so thick that I ended up eating it with a spoon!  If you would rather drink it, add a splash of cold water to the mixture.  I used Genisoy Vanilla Protein powder, but you can use your own favorite brand.

This recipe can easily be halved.

Power-Packed Pumpkin Smoothie
Makes 2 servings
  • 1/2 cup canned pure pumkin
  • 1 cup unsweetened Almond Breeze original
  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder
  • Dashes of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg
  • 2 packets Splenda (optional)
  1. Place all the ingredients into a blender container and whiz for several seconds, till completely combined.
  2. Divide into 2 glasses and serve.

Per Serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 4.
Calories 175; Protein 15g; Carbohydrate 24g; Fat 2g; Fibre 3g.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Estimating Portion Sizes With Your Hand

It is not always practical, or even possible, to measure or weigh everything we eat.  And most times, it isn't even necessary.  When you want to estimate a measurement or a weight, it is easy to do with your own hand.

For instance:

The palm of your hand, without the fingers, and the full thickness, is approximately 3 ounces.

This could be used for chicken breasts, steaks or chops, and fish steaks and fillets.

Your closed fist is approximately 1 cup.

This can be used for things such as pasta, popcorn, cereals, and ice cream.

Your index finger, from first joint to tip, is approximately 1 tsp.

This is a good measure for sugar, butter, or peanut butter.

Your thumb, from first joint to tip, is approximately the same volume as 1 tablespoon.

This can be used for jams, jellies,  nut butters, nuts, and seeds.

The full thumb, from base to tip, is approximately 1 ounce.

This is a good visual measure for cheeses, meats and chocolate.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Protein Packed Cheesy Oats

I am always on the lookout for a new way to eat oats.  I do like oats for breakfast, but they just don't seem to stick to my ribs till lunchtime.  Not enough protein, I think.

Today  I decided to add some cottage cheese to my cooked oats.  There is lots of protein in cottage cheese.  And, I have used it, mixed with cinnamon, as a topper for toast... so why not as a mix-in for my oats?

It turned out to be very tasty.  And I was definitely satisfied all morning.

Cheesy Oats
Makes 1 serving
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbs raisins
  • 1/3 cup 1% cottage cheese
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp honey
  1. Bring water to a rolling boil in small saucepan.  Stir in oats and reduce heat to low.  Cook for about 7 or 8 minutes, stirring often, until thickened.
  2. Remove from heat and put oats into a serving bowl.  Stir in raisins, and cottage cheese.
  3. Sprinkle the cinnamon on top, then drizzle with honey.
  4. Add other toppings as desired.
Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 6.
Calories 242; Protein 13g; Carbohydrate 43g; Fat 3g; Fibre 4g.

Stir the cottage cheese and raisins into the hot, cooked oats.

Banana slices are the perfect topping - and they add a bit more sweetness, too.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Lovely Lime

I have always loved the flavor of limes.  They add a distinct tang to dressings, and pair particularly well with cilantro.  Just the smell of a fesh cut lime can start your digestive juices flowing.

But did you know they are good for us, too?
  • Lime contains by far more vitamin C than the lemon. A glass of warm water with lime juice and a teaspoonful of honey is an ideal remedy for cold and dry cough.
  • The vitamin C content in lime boosts our immune systems and aids the healing of wounds and prevents damage to the eyes.
  • Vitamin C is also helpful in maintaining the health of the teeth and bones.  It prevents decay and loosening of the teeth, toothache, bleeding of the gums and fragility of bones.
  • The rind of the fruit also has medicinal properties. It contains a volatile oil which is used in medicine for improving digestion.
  • The lime juice is of great value in relieving constipation, when it is taken first thing in the morning in a glass of warm water.
  • The potent anti-viral properties in lime can kill cholera bacilli within a very short period of time. Drink one part juice and one part water regularly.
To get more juice from your lime, roll the whole fruit around on a table or counter until it softens.

Limes can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks... although they can be kept longer, they will lose flavor after that length of time.

Per 2 inch fruit.
Weight Watchers P+ = 0.
Calories 19; Protein 0g; Carbohydrate 7g; Fat 0g; Fibre 2 g.

Here are some featured recipes using this fruit:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Summertime Potato Salad

Does anything say Summer better than a colorful, tangy, potato salad?  This one is meant to be a meal unto itself.  It is a perfect, ligh and tasty dinner when the weather is warm.  White or yellow potatoes would work nicely if you don't have red.  The real bacon bits really add to the flavor.

Potato Salad
Makes 2 servings
  • 2 large eggs, hardboiled, cooled and peeled
  • 3 medium red potatoes, cooked with peels on, and cooled
  • 2 green onions, cut into thin slices
  • 1/2 small red bell pepper, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbs fat free mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbs fat free plain yogurt
  • 2 tsp green relish
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 Tbs real bacon bits
  • 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
  1. Slice the eggs and place in large bowl. 
  2. Cut the potatoes into medium size dice, and add to eggs in bowl.
  3. Add the sliced onions and the diced red pepper to the bowl.
  4. Mix all ingredients lightly.
  5. Stir the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl then add to salad and toss gently.
  6. Chill about an hour.
  7. Divide into 2 serving bowls and season with salt and pepper.

Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 8.
Calories 302g; Protein 14g; Carbohydrate 48g; Fat 6g; Fibre 5g.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Couscous Comfort Pudding

This dish satisfies the yen for comfort food and is much quicker to make from scratch than rice pudding.   It is particularly good served warm.

If you are not going to use it all, you can make it up to step 4, and then store it in the refrigerator.  Then, when you want to serve it, reheat it in the microwave for several seconds and then stir in the vanilla and yogurt.

There are lots of substitutions  you can make in the ingredients. You could use Brown Sugar Twin instead of brown sugar, but it doesn't significantly change the nutritional information... and real brown sugar makes for a nice flavor.  If you want, you can use skim or 1% dairy milk, or Almond Breeze unsweetened Vanilla flavor... you might also use fat free vanilla yogurt.  If you do make any substitutions that have vanilla in them, just leave the vanilla extract out.

It's quite versatile and a very tasty snack or dessert.

Couscous Comfort Pudding
Makes 4 servings
  • 1 cup Almond Breeze, original unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat couscous
  • 2 Tbs brown Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup non-fat plain yogurt
  • 2 Tbs raisins 
  1. In small saucepan, heat milk until just boiling.
  2. Stir in couscous, sugar, raisins and cinnamon.
  3. Remove mixture from heat and cover with tight-fitting lid.
  4. Allow to sit 10 mins, until milk is absorbed.
  5. Stir in yogurt and serve.
Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 3.
Calories 119; Protein 4g; Carbohydrate 24g; Fat 1g; Fibre 2g.

Thickened considerably as milk, raisins, sugar, and cinnamon are added.

Fresh fruit makes a really nice topping.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Beautiful Black Bean and Couscous Salad

This salad makes a very hearty lunch and fits the bill for colorful and crunchy, too.  If you have time, you could use the Dashboard Couscous method, and just add the other ingredients.  Make sure to include the zest from the lime... it really adds a punch to the flavors in this lovely salad.

Black Bean and Couscous Salad
Makes 4 servings
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat couscous
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed, approx. 2 cups
  • 2/3 cup corn kernels
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large tomato, diced or 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
  • juice and zest from one lime
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbs fresh chopped cilantro
  1. Cook couscous according to package directions or use the Dashboard Method with water, and leave till plumped and water has been absorbed. 
  2. Place couscous in large bowl.
  3. Add  beans, corn, onion, tomato, and pepper to couscous in the bowl.
  4. Drizzle olive oil over top, along with the juice and zest from the lime.
  5. Then sprinkle chopped cilantro over top, and mix all together.
  6. Divide into 4 servings and add salt and pepper to taste.  
Per serving - about 1-1/2 cups each.
Weight Watchers P+ = 5.
Calories 206; Protein 10g; Carbohydrate 37g; Fat 3g; Fibre 8g.

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.

If you like, add a sliced, hardboiled egg for more protein - for only 2 P+ more.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Funny Fiddleheads

Being a gardener, I am always eager to see the young fern shoots come up out of the ground in the Spring... watching them unfurl and become leaves is so interesting to me.

I had never considered eating them!  I didn't know you could eat them.

But we found some fiddleheads in our favorite produce market this week and decided to try them.  The Captain has heard that they are delicious with butter and lemon juice... sounded very appealing.  So we brought them home.

I washed them very thoroughly and then boiled them in lightly salted water for 10 minutes, and then drained them.  It is very important to make sure they are thoroughly cooked before you eat them.

Meanwhile I mixed about 2 tsp of butter with 1 tsp of lemon juice.  Then I tossed the lemon butter into the cooked fiddleheads and served them hot.

Mmmmm.  Sorta like fresh asparagus.

The nutritional information shows that they have good amounts of Vitamins A and C. And Weight Watchers says they are a zero point vegetable. 

Per 3 ounce serving, fiddleheads alone.
Weight Watchers P+ =1.
Calories 31; Protein 4g; Carbohydrate 5g; Fat <1g; Fibre 0g.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tasty Tuna Burgers

This recipe for Tuna Burgers came from one of my new Weight Watchers buddies.  It is simple but very good.  The parmesan cheese definitely gives it a nice little flavor kick.

She suggests you have it on a thins roll,  or between 2 slices of bread... and I think a pita would work nicely, too.  I have taken the liberty of specifying amounts for a couple of the ingredients.

Tuna Burgers
Makes 2 servings
  • 1 can tuna packed in water, drained (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbs shredded parmsan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Form 2 burgers and place in saute pan, sprayed lightly with a non-stick spray.
  3. Cook over medium-low heat until golden, about 4 minutes.  Turn and cook other side.
  4. Serve on roll of choice.

Per serving, not including roll.
Weight Watchers P+ = 3.
Calories 117; Protein 18g; Carbohydrate 3g; Fat 4g; Fibre 0g.

Leftover burgers can be frozen - thaw and reheat to serve.

Cooking the burgers on medium-low heat.

A nice light meal with a salad.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Simple Spinach Chicken Salad

This recipe from Hunger Free Forever has been 'on the back burner' for some time now, waiting for just the right time to make an appearance at lunch or dinner.  It is lovely in its simplicity and also very versatile.  The chicken can be baked, grilled, or even canned... hot or cold.  You choose.  And you can certainly add more vegetables, seasonings, or even crumbled or shredded cheese.

I did make a couple of changes to the original recipe.  I added green onions, freshly ground pepper, and dried oregano.  And I reduced the amount of oil in the dressing, just a bit.

Spinach Chicken Salad
Makes 2 servings

  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut in chunks
  • 3 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • 2 green onions
  • 8 oz grilled or baked boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • Dash of salt, ground black pepper, dried oregano
  1. In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes with the spinach. Add the chicken, onions, olive oil, and vinegar. Toss.
  2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and oregano.
Per serving, including the vegetables.
Weight Watchers P+ = 5.
Calories 200; Protein 27g; Carbohydrate 8g; Fat 6g; Fibre 3g.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Celebrating Cilantro

I have to admit, I am a fairly recent convert to this leafy herb.  I have only recently learned to really appreciate the distinct flavor that it brings to any dish.  I used to just leave it out of a recipe, as a matter of habit... but now that I am enjoying it, I am seeking out recipes that call for it. 

And, I have just learned, through reading the April 2010 issue of Health Magazine, that it also has many health benefits, too.

Here are 4 they list:
  1. Cilantro is a natural diuretic.  It will help reduce bloat, aid digestion, and prevent nausea.
  2. Cilantro's essential oils kill salmonella and E.coli.
  3. Cilantro has anti-inflammatory properties.  You can ease sore joints and muscles by applying a mixture of chopped cilantro and aloe vera gel to the affected area.
  4. The oils in cilantro sooth irritated skin.  A mask made from a blended mixture of avocado, lemon juice, cilantro, and avocado oil will calm and hydrate.
Featured Recipes using this herb:

Monday, June 06, 2011

Beautiful Balsamic Strawberries

This recipe was given to me some time ago, by a friend I met through Weight Watchers.... it is such a lovely way to enjoy the luscious berries that are so plentiful in the late Spring.  A perfect, light way to top off dinner.

Strawberries with vinegar and pepper may sound unusual, but the sweet-tart combo is delicious, and if you use dark vinegar, the balsamic marinade tints the strawberries a gorgeous deep red.  If you don't have vanilla yogurt on hand, use plain and stir a dash of vanilla extract into it.

Balsamic Strawberries
Makes 4 servings 
  • 4 cups strawberries, halved or quartered
  • 2 Tbs unpacked brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 Tbs mint leaves, optional
  1. Combine strawberries, sugar, vinegar and pepper in a bowl.
  2. Marinate in refrigerator for at least 1 hour, stirring at least once.
  3. Serve in 4 small glasses or bowls and top each with 2 tablespoons vanilla yogurt.
  4. Garnish with mint sprigs, if desired.
Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 2.
Calories 76; Protein 2g; Carbohydrate 17g; Fat 1g; Fibre 3g.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

'Frenched' Strawberry and Cream Cheese Sandwiches

One of my Weight Watcher pals mentioned something about a grilled strawberry and cream cheese pita yesterday... and today I decided to take that idea one step further and I created these 'Frenched' Strawberry and Cream Cheese Sandwiches.

The P+ values shown are for the ingredients I have used... it will vary depending on the bread, cheese, and milk used.  But the idea is so lovely.  It is rich and delicious and makes a pretty plate.  This is sure to become a weekend morning favorite, as long as fresh strawberries are available.

'Frenched' Strawberry and Cream Cheese Sandwiches
Makes 2 servings

  • 4 slices whole grain bread
  • 1 Laughing Cow cheese wedge
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup fat free milk
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 8 medium strawberries
  1. Break the egg into a bowl that is wide enough to lay your bread slices in.  Add the milk and cinnamon and whisk till frothy.  Set aside.
  2. Divide the cheese wedge in half.  Spread each half over a slice of the bread.  You will have 2 slices that are covered with cheese, and 2 that are left plain.
  3. Wash, hull, and slice the strawberries.
  4. Spray a saute pan with non-stick spray and set over medium heat.
  5. Take a slice of the bread that is covered with cheese and lay the opposite side into the egg mixture to absorb a bit of it into the bread.  Place the slice, egg-side down in the saute pan, and then cover the cheese with strawberry slices.
  6. Lay one side of a plain slice of bread into the egg mixture to coat and then cover the bread in the pan, egg side up.
  7. Let the sandwich cook a couple of minutes until browned, then carefully flip over and brown the second side.
  8. When it is done, set in a container to keep warm.  Repeat with the second sandwich.
  9. When both are cooked, plate and drizzle your favorite syrup or a bit of honey over the top.
Per serving, without syrup.
Weight Watchers P+ = 5.
Calories 213; Protein 9g; Carbohydrate 30g; Fat 6g; Fibre 5g.

Any kind of  milk or non-dairy milk will work in this recipe.
Substitute 2 egg whites for the egg.
If using soft cream cheese, about 1 Tbs should be enough.

Waiting to be covered with the plain, egg-dipped slice of bread.

After flipping in the pan.

Pretty and delicious.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Mediterranean Chick Pea Patties

I am always on the lookout for veggie burger recipes, so when I found this one in the March 2010 issue of Health Magazine, I knew I had to try it.  It did not disappoint.  Plated and served with a nice green salad, or coleslaw, this is a nutritious and delicious dinner.

I used less oil for cooking than the original recipe calls for, and made a couple of other small changes. This is what I came up with.

Mediterranean Chick Pea Patties
Makes 2 servings, 2 patties each
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley 
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped 
  • 1/8 tsp ground cumin 
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 egg white 
  • 2 Tbs all-purpose flour, divided 
  • 1 tsp olive oil 
  1. Pulse first 6 ingredients (through pepper) in a food processor until coarsely chopped and mixture comes together. 
  2. Transfer to a bowl, add egg white and 1 Tbs flour; form into 4 (1/2-inch-thick) patties. 
  3. Place remaining flour in a small dish and roll patties in it with floured hands; tap off excess flour.
  4. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook patties for 4-5 minutes per side or until golden.
.Per serving, 2 patties each.
Weight Watchers P+ = 4.
Calories 174; Protein 9g; Carbohydrate 26g; Fat 4g; Fibre 7g.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Moist Microwave Muffins

These make up so quickly and easily and there is no need to preheat your oven.   A tasty way to have a muffin that has no fat and lots of flavor.

They make a nice, light breakfast with a piece of fruit, or a good snack.  The key to success is in leaving them long enought to cool, to handle easily.  I used organic spelt flour but whole wheat would probably work nicely, too.

Microwave Muffins
Makes 2
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin
  • 2 Tbs spelt flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 packets Splenda
  • Dashes of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg 
  1. Spray 2 small microwave-safe bowls with non-stick spray.
  2. Mix ingredients well and divide into 2 bowls.
  3. Cook each one on HIGH for 2 minutes.
  4. Leave cool about 5 minutes in the dish, then turn out and leave another 5 minutes before serving.
  5. Top with peanut butter, if desired.

Per serving, without topping.
Weight Watchers P+ = 1.
Calories 73; Protein 5g; Carbohydrate 11g; Fat 0g; Fibre 3g.

You could use applesauce or mashed ripe banana in place of the pumpkin and adjust the spices.
You may need to adjust the cooking time for your own microwave oven.

Ready to go into the mike.

During cooking the batter rises quite high, and then falls during cooling.

The non-stick spray is essential.

Topped with peanut butter and ready to enjoy.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Tangy Thai Slaw

I found this idea in a Kraft foods magazine called what's cooking - the Summer 2011 issue.  I don't often use the recipes because they usually call for branded ingredients that I don't purchase.

This slaw is pretty basic, but it has a nice twist with the addition of the cilantro, lime, and cashews.  The original called for slices of red onion, but I am using green onions instead.

This easily becomes a complete meal for 2 people with the addition of cooked shrimp, chicken, pork, or tofu cubes.  If you don't have time to slice cabbage and shred the carrot, pre-packaged coleslaw mix works very well.

Thai Slaw
Makes 4 servings, about 1 to 1-1/4 cups each
  • 2-1/2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 1/4 cup salted cashews, coarsely chopped
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1-1/2 Tbs chopped cilantro
  • 1 medium lime
  • 3 Tbs fat free mayonnaise
  1. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Mix the llime juice, lime zest, and mayonnaise together in a small bowl.
  3. Add the dressing to the cabbage mixture and toss to coat.

Per serving, if serving 4.
Weight Watchers P+ = 2.
Calories 87; Protein 3g; Carbohydrate 11g; Fat 4g; Fibre 3g.

Per serving, if serving 2.
Weight Watchers P+ = 5.
Calories 173; Protein 5g; Carbohydrate 22g; Fat 8g; Fibre 5g.