Real Food for Real Life

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Easy, pleasy breakfast...

Veggie Omelet Bowl with Salsa
I hate making breakfast on weekday morns, so tend to eat the same (easy) thing over and over.  It used to be a toasted bagel with pepper jack or cream cheese (too many points the way I was doing it), them it was cream of whet with a touch of Splenda (low in points but BORING).  But now I think I have found the answer, a breakfast that is easy, tasty, and low in points.  AND I've been eating these for a few weeks now and haven't grown bored, plus plus.  Keep chopped veggies in the fridge and this come together in a snap.

Omelet Bowl with Salsa

1 large handful of chopped mixed veg (this one has onion, green bell pepper, and halved grape tomatoes)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup egg whites, from a carton
1/4 cup 2% milk cheese shreds (I use Sargento Mexi-blend or Aldi sharp cheddar)
1 heaping tablespoon (or two) of your favorite salsa

Place you veggies in in a microwave safe bowl, season with salt and pepper, and nukerate on high for one minute.  Add the egg whites and cook an additional minute and a half.  Sprinkle on the cheese and cook for 10 or 15 seconds to melt the cheese.  Top with salsa and enjoy.

WW PointsPlus value:  3 points as made. 
While I prefer mine veggie, a small amount of lean diced ham or bacon adds only one point.  You can add two slices of whole wheat/grain bread if desired for an additional 3 or 4 points, depending on the brand.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Just can't keep my food regions straight...

German Turkey Burger and Texas Cheese Fries
One of the best burgers we have ever created is our German Pretzel Burger, and after picking up some pretzel buns at Meijer, I was in the mood to have it again, but in a lighter, Weight Watcher's friendly way.  I had turkey burgers in the freezer and decided to season them for a brat-like flavor.  I swapped the cheddar for a low fat Swiss, and the regular bacon for turkey.  Some sauerkraut and a healthy smear of grainy mustard and we were set.  I must add that the smell of the burgers cooking in my George Foreman grill was so tantalizing with the coriander and all.  A note on the brat seasoning-  I'm claiming no authenticity for this blend, it is what I had in the spice drawer that sounded good for this.

But what to have with the burgers.  I didn't see a WW friendly way to make my German Potato Salad WW friendly because it is so dependent upon bacon fat for flavor, so I turned to one of my regular reads, Skinnytaste, for inspiration.  Well, to cut to the chase, Ben saw the picture for Gina's Skinny Texas Cheese Fries and decided on our side.  So much for pairing foods from the same or similar region.  These were easy to make and delicious, we will certainly be having these again.

German Pretzel Turkey Burger

Seasoning for four burgers:
4 4oz. prepared, plain turkey burgers (I used Jennie O)
1 tbsp caraway seeds, coarsely ground (I used a mortar and pestle)
1 tsp each coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp each ground allspice, coriander, and marjoram

For each burger:
1 pretzel bun (or another type if preferred)
1 slice (1oz) low fat Swiss cheese
2 slices turkey bacon, cooked crisp
1/3 (or more) sauerkraut, squeezed dry
coarse grain mustard, to taste

Mix together the seasoning ingredients; season both sides of the four burgers, using all the seasoning and pressing it in with your fingers.  Cook however you prefer- I find the prepared patties to be fragile, so I use my George Foreman grill.  Construct your burger using the remaining ingredients and enjoy.

WW PointsPlus Value:  The burger as constructed is 14 points.  Half of these points come from the pretzel bun, so a smaller/lower carb bun would reduce the point value.

Skinny Texas Cheese Fries

2 medium potatoes (2/3 lb total), Yukon gold or russet, unpeeled
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp each chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin
coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper
2 slices center cut bacon, cooked and chopped
1/3 cup reduced fat Mexi blend cheese (I used Sargento)
2 tbsp sliced scallions
sliced pickled jalapeños

Preheat the oven to 400°. Line baking sheet with foil for easy clean-up; lightly coat with cooking spray.  Cut each potato lengthwise into 1/4 inch thin slices; then cut each slice into 1/4 inch fries.
In a large bowl, combine cut potatoes and oil; toss well. Add seasonings and toss again to coat. 
Place potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes or until tender crisp, turning once half way through (depending on thickness this may require more or less time). 
Remove from oven, place fries into two small oven safe dishes (or one large dish for sharing), top with cheese, sliced jalapenos, scallions and bacon bits; return to oven until the cheese melts.

WW PointsPlus Value:  7 points per serving

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dinner in a jiffy...

Penne with Chicken Sausage and Roasted Tomatoes
We've all been there- hungry, tired, and not feeling inspired for dinner.  With just a few ingredients and about a half hour of time you can have a tasty dinner on the table.  Now isn't that inspiring.  his could not have been easier, but tasted like I put some real effort into it.  I made this for three, so if you are feeding more, just up the ingredients a bit.  Serve with a green salad and call your dinner complete.  While we didn't use it here, a grating of parmesan would be very nice with this.

Penne with Chicken Sausage and Roasted Tomatoes

12oz pkg. fully cooked chicken sausage (I used Meijer Sundried Tomato with Basil and Mozzarella)
6oz whole grain penne (I used Barilla)
10oz grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
6 cloves garlic, sliced very thin (or more, if you dare)
1 T extra virgin olive oil
coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper

 Halve the tomatoes and toss them with the olive oil, garlic, and a generous amount of salt and pepper in a small baking dish.  Roast in the oven at 45o degrees F while you prepare the rest of the meal.  Prepare the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water before you drain it.  While the pasta is cooking, brown the sausages in a large non-stick skillet.  When browned to your liking, remove to a cutting board and slice thinly.  Add the reserved water to the skillet and use a wooded spoon to loosen any brown bits.  Return the sausage slices to the pan along with the drained pasta.  Remove the tomatoes from the oven and give a good stir, pressing with a spoon to relwase more juices.  Add to the pan with the sausage and pasta, tossing to coat the pasta with the "sauce."

WW PointsPlus Value:  Serves 3 at 9 points per serving.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A "healthy" cocktail...

Green and Red Cocktail

We've all heard of the health benefits of antioxidant rich green tea, the potential to burn fat, lower cholesterol, fight heart disease, and prevent diabetes.And red wine?  A growing body of scientific research that indicates red wine may offer significant antioxidant protection, having the potential to overcome free radicals that cause cellular damage, a root cause of of cancer and heart disease.  Just last week I read of new research  that has found that the natural chemicals found in green tea and red wine may disrupt a key step in the development ofAlzheimers.  Yet more good news for this wonder pair.

I love both tea and red wine, and I only half joked on Facebook that I was on a mission to make a "healthy" cocktail using the two.  And this weekend I did just that.  I used an Ocean Spray diet juice drink, and while that didn't add any additional antioxidant effects, despite being cranberry and pomegranate, it did add a small shot of vitamin C.  I found this lower alcohol cocktail to be very refreshing with the added tannins of the tea, and not overly sweet.  This will be perfect for summer, in  moderation, of course.

Green and Red Cocktail
8 servings

1 bottle of dry red wine
4 green tea bags
1 cup water
2 cups Ocean Spray Diet Cranberry Pomegranate Juice Drink
1 fat, juicy lime, cut into 8 wedges

Place the tea bags and water in a microwavable cup and microwave on high for 2 minutes and let steep for 5 minutes.  Remove the tea bags, squeezing lightly against a spoon to extract the liquid.  Mix the tea, juice drink, and wine in a pitcher and refrigerate until serving.  Serve over ice with a lime wedge.  Squeeze the wedge right into the glass and add the wedge to the glass for good measure.  Enjoy.

WW PointsPlus value: 3 points a serving, shaving one point from the value for one glass of wine.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Build your own pizza bar...

Just a few of the possibilities.
I was on Facebook last Friday when I came across a photo of flatbread pizza shared by a friend.  The pizza looked delish, and it included a caption declaring it was only 8 points under Weight Watchers PointsPlus.  Ben and I had been on the program for almost a month and pizza was one of those things that we figured we would have later, after we dropped "enough" weight (whatever that meant).  The photo also included the link to the blog post it came from. The recipe called for Flatout brand flatbreads and purchased pesto.  It so happened that I had a package of sundried tomato Flatout bread in the fridge and a container of Buitoni pesto in the freezer.  I was set.

I didn't stop there, however.  I also had a tasty prepared pasta sauce, Hormel turkey pepperoni, and assorted veggie choices.  We would have a make your own pizza bar, being as good, or indulgent, as we desired.  These were so GOOD, and so easy; I will be keeping Flatout bread around for weeknight dinner (or pizza craving) emergencies from now on.

Make Your Own Flatbread Pizza

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Lay the flatbread(s) on a baking sheet, topping as desired.  Bake for 10 minutes, slice into pieces, and eat.  The family only made two at a time so I can't say if having multiple baking sheets in the oven would work.  I would rotate the sheets halfway through baking if trying this.

WW PointsPlus Values:
Flatout Bread- 3 points each
Purchased Pesto- 1T =  2 1/4 C = 7 points*
Purchased Sauce-  1/4 C = 1 point
Part-Skim Mozzarella shreds- 1/4 C = 2, 1/3 C = 3, and 1/2 C = 4 points
Hormel Turkey Pepperoni- 8 slices = 1 and 17 slices = 2 points
Bacon Bits (50% less fat)- up to 2 T = 1 point, 3 T = 2 points
Assorted Veggie Toppings are FREE, even the olives so long as you use them lightly
*A homemade pesto using much less oil could be used, allowing for a more abundant use

Just sauce, pepperoni, and cheese.

On the left is pesto (2 T!!), tomatoes, mushrooms, red onion, and cheese.  The pizza on the right used sauce and went "halfsies," with one half a "veggie deluxe" and the other with pepperoni and fresh jalapeño.

On the left is pesto (a moderate 1 T), tomatoes, red onion, and cheese.  Think a baked caprese salad.  The pizza on the right has sauce and has also gone halfsies.  One half is mixed veg while the other is a "salty" pizza (as we call it) of green olives and pickled jalapeños.
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