Thursday, May 31, 2012

Garden Fresh Veggies With Cottage Cheese

I am so happy that Summer is rolling around again! 

I love crunchy, fresh, filling, nutritious, and delicious salads... and they just seem to taste that much better in warmer weather.

I don't buy cottage cheese very often as I have been very disappointed with the fat free varieties available locally.  So, I took a chance this week on some 1% and although it was a bit creamier in texture than I normally like, it was very tasty and inspired this lunch.

I heaped our plates full of leafy mixed greens and then layered on the cottage cheese and a variety of fresh vegetables.  I drizzled a teaspoon of olive oil and about a tablespoon of white balsamic vinegar over the whole works... a dash of salt and pepper, and a sprig of fresh cilantro and we were eating lunch.

You can add any flavorful toppings you like such as crumbled bacon, sliced black olives, sunflower seeds, avocado chunks, shrimp, chia seeds, or even croutons... just make sure to count the Points Plus values if you are following the Weight Watchers program.

This salad was very simple and here is how I put it together.

Garden Fresh Veggies With Cottage Cheese
Makes 1 large serving
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups mixed salad greens of your choosing
  • 2/3 cup cottage cheese
  • slices of cucumber, tomato, onion, red bell pepper
  • baby carrots and fresh cilantro for garnish
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbs white balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dashes of basil and oregano if desired
  1. Place the mixed greens on a large plate or in a bowl.
  2. Spoon cottage cheese on top of the greens and then layer on veggies and toppings.
  3. Season as desired.

Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ =  5 *
Calories 195; Protein 17g; Carbohydrate 19g; Fat 6g; Fibre 5g.

If you count only the cottage cheese, olive oil, and vinegar, the P+ = 3.  It is up to you as to how you count.

I think this would make a great lunch to take along to work as well... but I would pack the cottage cheese separately so that the greens stay crisp till you are ready to eat.

It is very filling, with all the protein that the cottage cheese contains and kept me satisfied all afternoon.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Fresh Homemade Salsa

Now that we have a container garden on our apartment balcony, I have enough cilantro to share with everyone in the building. I had no idea when I planted these 6 little plantlets a few weeks ago how quickly they would grow!

So, if you see lots of my recipes using cilantro over the next few weeks, you will know why.  And actually, it is very good for us... I did a post featuring cilantro a while back and there are many health benefits to eating this tasty herb.

Yesterday I found bell peppers on sale at my favorite local freggie market, so I stocked up on yellow, green, red, and orange, and when I got home I started washing and chopping and made a batch of fresh salsa.

I love salsa, and fresh is really the best.  I love the crunchiness of the fresh peppers and it is nice to be able to season it just the way I like with salt and pepper, lemon or lime juice, and as much cilantro as I like.  And, because The Captain is not a fan of hot spicy dishes, I can make some up for him and then add a bit more chopped jalapeno pepper to mine. 

Use whatever colored bell peppers you can find... make it as colorful as you like, and if you don't have ripe tomatoes, use canned - just squeeze the extra juice out of them as you cut them.  Cut everything up as finely as you have the patience for!

And be very careful with the jalapeno pepper.  Do not touch your face or run your eyes if you handle it with bare hands... make sure you wash your hands well after you are finished cutting up the pepper.

The one I had was so powerful that I could feel in my throat the strength of the flavor as I was cutting it up.  Not quite sneezing, but I certainly was aware of it.

Fresh Salsa
Makes just over 1 cup
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper to tast
  • quick splash of lemon or lime juice
Mix everything together and refrigerate for at least an hour to let the flavors meld.

Per 1/4 cup serving (approx. 1/4th total recipe)
Weight Watchers P+ = 0.
Calories = 15; Protein 1g; Carbohydrate 3g; Fat 0g; Fibre 1g.

This salsa keeps nicely in the fridge for a day or two and I like to used it in a variety of different dishes.

I had some for dinner on a plateful of corn chips...

And on my morning omelette...

And at lunch time, piled on a cooked sweet potato topped with black beans...

Do you like salsa?  Do you ever make your own?

Do you have any ideas as to how I can use all the cilantro I am growing?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Simple Lemon Chicken

We seem to have been eating quick and easy meals on the fly lately... but I really wanted to prepare a nice, sitdown meal for The Captain to say thank you for all of the work he has been doing for us lately. 

And he does love lemon, so I decided to bake some chicken breasts with lemons and it seems to have been a good idea because he really loved it.

It was very easy to put together too.  You can adjust the ingredients for the number of servings you want to make.

Simple Lemon Chicken
Makes 2 serving
  • 2 raw (not frozen) chicken breasts, 4 ounces each
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 small lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 thin slice of onion
  • Dashes of salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup water
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F
  2. Prepare a baking pan by coating it with non-stick spray.
  3. Place chicken breasts in the pan and spread 1/2 tsp of olive oil over the top of each.
  4. Drizzle 1 tsp of lemon juice over the breasts and then sprinkle salt and pepper on the top.
  5. Cover each chicken breast with thin slices of lemon and onion rings.
  6. Pour the water around the breasts in the bottom of the pan.
  7. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 5.
Calories 194; Protein 25g; Carbohydrate 3g;  Fat 9g; Fibre 1g.

I covered my baking pan with foil and then coated with non-stick spray for easier cleanup.

Baked chicken served with brown rice and peas.  Mmmmm.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Peanut Butter and Oat Ballz with Raisins... Mmmmm.

Happy Victoria Day to all of my Canadian friends.  This  has always been my favorite stat holiday as it is often on my birthday, which actually is May 24th... and now living in Victoria makes it even more special.  The annual parade is so fun... unfortunately this year the weatherman didn't cooperate!

The people we have been house and kitty sitting for since the middle of December came home yesterday.  Last Sunday, Mother's Day, we ran a half marathon, and on Monday we started moving our things into our own little nest... leaving the pantry pretty much bare of everything except the essentials I think we needed for the next several days.

But on Friday afternoon, I decided a treat was in order so I looked to see what I could come up with, and I found a few ingredients and put together some raw Peanut Butter and Oat Ballz.  Just the right sweet to enjoy out on the deck in the sunshine with an afternoon coffee.  If your oats are gluten free then these cookies will be, too.

I had chunky peanut butter on hand, but smooth would be fine, and you could use almond butter or sunflower butter too.  Just make sure it is at room temperature so it will blend easily with the other ingredients.

I used honey and liquified it in the microwave oven because I had already packed my agave nectar.

Store the leftovers in the fridge or the freezer so they will hold their shape.

Peanut Butter and Oat Ballz
Makes 13 ballz
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup quick (not instant) oats
  • 2 Tbsp liquid honey
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a medium bowl until well-blended.
  2. Put the bowl into the fridge for a bout half an hour to cool the dough... it is easier to handle when cool.
  3. Using a scoop, or a melon-baller, or a spoon, portion the dough into ballz and roll in your hands to shape.
Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 3.
Calories 100; Protein 3g; Carbohydrate 11g; Fat 5g; Fibre 1g.

Put all ingredients into a medium bowl.

Blend well and then refrigerate for about half hour.

Portion doug and roll into 13 ballz.

Chocolate chips would be good too!

    Thursday, May 17, 2012

    Favorite Breakfasts

    This morning I cooked one of our favorite prerace-training breakfasts... Carrot Cake Oatmeal.  I say pre-race because for the 4-1/2 months we trained for Sunday's half marathon, we concentrated on eating extra protein at breakfast... addding protein powder to oats, smoothies, pancakes, and also eating lots of eggs and egg whites.

    We can cut back a bit now that we are getting back to more normal levels of activity and so can go back to enjoying some favorite breakfasts.... Carrot Cake Oatmeal is one of them.

    Cooking shredded carrots, with oats, Almond Breeze and water.

    Here are some others:


    Do you have a favorite breakfast?  I would love to hear about it.


    Monday, May 14, 2012

    Creamy Ginger-Sesame Sauce for Salmon

    I found this idea in a local food flyer that was advertising frozen salmon patties... and I just knew it would be great with Chobani yogurt! 

    The Captain was barbecuing a salmon anyway so I decided to try it and we both loved it.  I hope you will give it a try.  Of course the ingredients can be doubled or tripled, as you like.

    I suggest you mix it up and leave it sit in the fridge for 15 minutes or so, to let the ginger do its magic with the rest of the ingredients.

    Creamy Ginger-Sesame Sauce
    Makes 2 servings
    • 6 Tbs fat free Plain Greek yogurt
    • 2 Tbs fat free mayonnaise
    • 1 Tbs grated fresh ginger
    • 1 tsp sesame oil
    • 1 tsp soy sauce
    1. Mix all together in small bowl and let rest for about 15 to 30 minutes in fridge to allow flavors to meld.
    2. Serve over salmon fillets, steaks or patties.
    Per serving.
    Weight Watchers P+ = 1.
    Calories 40g; Protein 3g; Carbohydrate 3g; Fat 1g; Fibre 0g.

    Mix all ingredients together well.

    Serve over cooked salmon.

    Goes really well with rice.

    Friday, May 11, 2012

    Cinnamon Bun Protein Cake, Sugar/Wheat Free

    I came across this recipe a few weeks ago and meant to make it right away... not sure what happened to get in the way of that.  But I did make it earlier this week, finally, and I am so glad that I did.  I will be making it again and again!

    We will be running our first half marathon on Sunday, May 13th, and this week, leading up to it, I wanted to make sure we are eating healthy snacks and desserts.

    To make the ground oats, I pureed quick oats in the blender and that worked very nicely.  I also used vanilla flavored Almond Breeze, and vanilla flavored fat free yogurt in the mix.  I also used an unsweetend vanilla protein powder.  Sounds like a lot of vanilla, but it was fine!  Actually, I might add a dash of vanilla to the mix if all the ingredients were plain!

    It smelled so good while it baking and when  it came out of the oven it was hard to wait for it to cool a bit before slicing it and digging in!

    I checked with Kris, who blogs at I Heart Wellness, and she gave me permission to share the recipe with you here. I hope you will give it a try... I will be checking out some of Kris's other great ideas soon!


    Cinnamon Bun Protein Cake
    • 6 packs Stevia
    • 3-1/2 Tbs (1 scoop) vanilla protein powder
    • 1-1/2 cups ground oats
    • 1 Tbs baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp sea salt
    • 2 tsp cinnamon
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup almond milk
    • 3 Tbs plain greek yogurt
    • and topped it off with 2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp powdered Stevia mixed together
    1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
    2. Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and whisk together! 
    3. Sprinkle the extra cinnnamon and Stevia over the top of the batter.
    4. Bake for 30 minutes in a pan coated with a non-stick spray. 
    I decided to cut the cake into 8 wedges, and will share the N.I. as I made it:

    Per serving of 1/8th of whole cake.
    Weight Watchers P+ = 3.
    Calories 96; Protein 7g; Carbohydrate 12g; Fat 3g; Fibre 2g.

    Mix the oat flour, baking powder, Stevia, cinnamon, and protein powder together in a large bowl. 

    Mix the Almond Breeze with eggs and yogurt.

    In a small bowl, mix cinnamon and Stevia together for topping. 

    Stir the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well. 

    Pour the batter into a prepared pan and sprinkle the cinnamon/Stevia mixture over the top before putting into preheated oven.

    I baked this cake for 30 minutes and then let it cool a few minutes before cutting it into 8 wedges. 

    Serve with yogurt and fruit for dessert... 

    or breakfast, or just a snack.

    Wednesday, May 09, 2012

    Taste of Nature Review - a Healthy and Delicious Snack!

    Most of the time I like to make our own treats.  And most of the time they are pretty healthy, with the occasional indulgence in sugary cookies, or even cake, mostly for The Captain...

    But once in a while I come across a ready-made product that is so good and so delicious that I have to share it with you.

    These Taste of Nature Organic Fruit and Nut Bars are one of those very special products. 

    Everything you see comes straight from nature.  Nothing artificial, no fillers and no chemicals with hard to pronounce names!

    Certified Organic - Gluten Free -  Vegan -  Kosher
    Non GMO - Low Glycemic Index

    Just take a look at a few of these gorgeous bars:

    Canadian Maple Forest
    and you can smell the maple syrup as soon as you open the package!

    Pecans, apricots, Brazil nuts, honey, brown rice syrup, raisins, whole grain brown rice crisps, agave  nectar, maple syrup flavor, vanilla flavor, sea salt.

    Himalayan Goji Summit and Persian Pomegranate Garden

    Himalayan Goji Summit
    Peanuts, raisins sunflower seeds, agave surup, almonds, goji berries, brown rice syrup, raspberries.

    Persian Pomegranate Garden
    Cashews, walnuts, apples, agave nectar, figs, cranberries, apple juice concentrate, sunflower oil, pomegranate juice concentrate, whole grain crisp rice, brown rice syrup, raspberries.

    Taste of Nature bars are sweetened with agave syrup which ranks very low in the glycemic index.  As a result six of the eleven Taste of Nature bars were clinically tested and attained GI scores ranging from 38.2 to 51.7, well below the low GI target of 55.  This makes them a particularly good choice for a snack between meals that will satisfy hunger and maintain blood sugar levels... no highs and lows.

    Whether you are watching sodium, dairy, wheat, cholesterol or are vegan or vegetarian, Taste of Nature meets the most stringent nutritional requirements with outstanding, satisfying taste.
    • No additives
    • No artificial flavors
    • No artificial sweeteners
    • No animal products
    • No dairy
    • No preservatives
    • No quasi natural sweeteners
    • No simple sugars
    • No Sulphur Dioxide
    • No cholesterol
    • No wheat
    • No gluten
    • Low sodium
    There are 11 different combinations in the line up, and they are all mouth-wateringly tempting and absolutely satisfying and delicious. They are very simply packaged in a clear cello wrapper so that you can see exactly what you are getting.... and I bet you will not be able to choose just one or two!

    It is so nice to find a really healthy pre-packaged snack that travels well. Stash one in your purse,your glovebox, your desk, your pocket, or your gym bag, and you have a nutritious snack that will easily take you to your next meal or give you the energy you need to carry on with your busy day.

    The Captain and I have been enjoying them immensely... usually we open one and share it, savoring every little bite!

    For my Weight Watchers friends, I want to tell you that these bars have between 150 and 220 calories and they range from 4 to 8 WW P+ each. 

    You can buy them in several different retail outlets or online at  - Check out their contests and community initiatives while you are there.

    Thanks to Taste of Nature for supplying me with a bar in every flavor in order to write this review.


    Monday, May 07, 2012

    Baked Potato and Leek Soup

    Is there anything nicer that a pot of homemade soup on a gloomy day? It evokes feelings of comfort and warmth... and it makes the house smell so great, too.

    I bought 4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, with an eye to making another batch of Potato and Leek Soup, but when I got the potatoes out to scrub them up, I decided to bake them before putting them in the soup pot.  I think it makes a creamier soup.

    I hope you will give it a try. It makes up very quickly and we really enjoyed it.  Use chicken broth if you like.  I used my homemade vegetable broth in this soup.

    Baked Potato and Leek Soup
    Makes 6 servings of 1-1/2 cups each
    • 4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, just over 2 pounds in total
    • 2 tsp canola oil
    • 1 large leek, washed and the white thinly sliced
    • 3-1/2 cups vegetable broth
    • 1 tsp salt
    • Dashes of pepper and thyme
    1. Scrub the potatoes and either bake them in the microwave oven for about 12 minutes or in a conventional oven for about an hour, till they are cooked through.
    2. Leeks like to hide sand between the layers so wash thoroughly and then slice the white part very thinly, and discard the green part.
    3. Pour the oil into a large saucepan, and gently saute the leek, separating the rings as it cooks.  Keep the heat on LOW until the leek is cooked and tender.  This may take about 10 minutes.
    4. When the potatoes are cooked, cut them into chunks and add to the soup pot.  If you have used a variety of potato that does not have tender skins, like a Russet, you may want to just scoop out the cooked flesh to use, and discard the skin.
    5. Add broth to the pot, stir, and raise heat to HIGH, and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat, add salt, pepper, and thyme, and let cool for a few minutes.
    6. Blend a bit with your hand-held immersion blender, but leave as chunky as you like. 
    7. Serve with a sprinkle of real crumbled bacon, a dollop of fat free sour cream or yogurt, and a bit of grated cheddar cheese.  Season as required with salt and pepper.
    Per serving, without garnishes.
    Weight Watchers P+ = 2.
    Calories 86; Protein 2g; Carbohydrate 16g; Fat 2g; Fibre 2g.

      Scrub potatoes and poke a hole in them before baking them in the microvave oven.

      Don't use the green part of the leek.

      Heat oil and gently saute leek slices.

      You do not want them to brown or get crispy, just tender so keep heat LOW.

      Cut baked potatoes into chunks.

      Add potatoes and broth to the soup pot and heat through.

      A bit of crumbled bacon, grated cheddar and fat free sour cream make nice garnishes and add flavor.

      And you may want an extra sprink of salt and pepper too.