Dannon Light & Fit Greek Blends – Banana Cream

I have become such a huge fan of Greek yogurt. I enjoy regular yogurt, but since Greek yogurt has so much more protein in it, it’s far more satisfying and filling. I’ve learned that not all brands of Greek yogurt are for me – some are too tart, some are too sweet, some flavors are just horrendous for my taste buds and some are too high in points to be comfortable with.
One brand I learned I truly enjoy is Dannon Light & Fit Greek.  Typically they’re 2 points plus values, so when I spotted this new line at Walmart I had to pick up one of each flavor that they had available.  I tried the Dannon Light & Fit Greek Blends – Banana Cream flavor and it’s DELICIOUS!  I was and am pumped to have found a banana cream flavored greek yogurt that is points plus friendly.  There are other brands out there on the market for banana greek yogurt but they’re 3-4 points and sometimes I feel that’s too hefty in points for a yogurt.
The flavor of this yogurt is exactly as it reads – a banana cream flavoring. It’s not overly banana cream, nor is it fake tasting, it’s a nice balance in the middle.  It’s filling, tasty and a home run.  I’m just sad that the brand is only sold at Walmart (at least for now?) but I hope my local market picks up the brand because it’s too yummy to have to wait to purchase or play “find the yogurt” at Walmart.
Have you tried the Dannon Light & Fit Greek Blends?

Relearning a Lesson

This past week I skated by it on the seat of my pants.  I know after nearly 3 ½ years as a Weight Watchers member that life happens – there are events that come up that can be out of my control, but it’s up to me to take the bull by the horns and make the best of it.  But this past week, I let that bull grab hold of my leg and drag me through the crowd – face first.  I’m not dwelling on it because it’s not going to help me succeed by beating myself up.  I’ve come too far to let a shaken up week deter me from my path – my goals.  I refuse to let a bad week spiral out of control because as I say “If I eat crap, I feel like crap.”  And well … I don’t want to feel like crap, I want to feel fabulous! So, I accepted the gain and knew I had to focus on being on track and being the best version of myself.
Looking back at my week I know exactly what I did.  I know why I stepped on that scale and was slapped in the face with a substantial gain.  I have no excuses and I know exactly what I need to focus on this week.
          I barely drank any water.  I think I drank one 20 ounce bottle of water all week.  My beverages were riddled with ice coffees, coke zeros and diet orange sodas.
          I hardly ate any fruits or vegetables. I usually have a salad at least once, if not twice a day and fruit throughout the day. Last week it was like: Salad? What’s a salad?  Fruit as a snack? Huh?
          I let a bag of Doritos at a barbecue get the best of me. “Family Size” bags of Doritos are a trigger for me.  I can have individual size bags of regular or baked Doritos and be absolutely fine but a large bag of Doritos twerks me out. It triggers some subconscious in my brain which disallows me to count 11 stinking chips. I realize I cannot control all the foods in my environment, but I CAN move those foods away from me so they’re not right in front of me to eat while talking to family and friends.
          I went into two back-to-back barbecues without a plan of action.  I didn’t have my scale or my measuring cups, so I eyeballed.  And even 3 ½ years in I’m not the greatest at eyeballing, which is why my scale and measuring cups are my BFF’s at home.
          I did the tango with a few cookies.  The cookies won.
          I was extremely sedentary.
Lesson relearned: old habits can creep up on you when you’re not fully in the game. But this was a lesson and I learned from it and I’ve already started back on the correct path.  We’ll see what the scale has to say when I weigh in Wednesday (early since my center is closed on the 4th).

Open Faced Breakfast Sandwich

I decided to make something different for breakfast, so I opted to go for an open faced breakfast sandwich.  You know, just twisting up the usual bacon and eggs.  Since I used egg substitute to scramble up, it makes quite a good amount of eggs, which is more than enough to place onto two English muffin rounds. It was yummy and filling.  Plus, since I’m a volume eater, seeing “more” on the plate subconsciously made me more satisfied.
The greatest part is that the whole plate was only 4 points plus.  I did top my eggs with sriracha and some reduced sugar ketchup.  Here’s what I used:
½ cup egg substitute
1 light English muffin (I used my local store brand they’re 2 points plus)
3 slices Butterball Ultra Thin turkey bacon
What is your favorite breakfast “shakeup”?

Cold Brew Coffee

I happen to LOVE coffee, especially ice coffee.  Unfortunately that love for ice coffee usually puts a pretty dent in both my pocket as well as my boyfriends.  To try to save money we’ve begun making ice coffee at home.  I try to jazz it up using different flavors of coffees, different creamers and even different sugar free syrups. One night I stumbled upon this online topic around cold brew coffees.  I decided I needed to try it at home, so I ordered a sifter and a set of funnels on Amazon. Sure, quite an investment for something I wasn’t sure if I was going to like … but I figured I could use these tools in the kitchen regardless.
I have made 4 separate pitchers of this coffee and I have to say, I am QUITE a fan. My boyfriend loves it as well, so this is going to be a staple coffee in my household.  It is a time consuming process because you have to let the coffee sit for at least 12 hours overnight in the refrigerator.  You then need to strain the coffee grounds off the liquid and then strain the liquid through a coffee filter.
Tasks aside, this is the smoothest, tastiest coffee I’ve ever had.  The flavors are far more pronounced, the brew is not bitter and it just makes a perfect iced coffee.
Depending on how strong you like your coffee, you’d have to play with the ratio but this is how both my boyfriend and I enjoy our coffees:
Cold coffee brew:
1 ¾ cup ground coffee
3 ½ cups of cold water
Shake contents and place into a refrigerator for at least 12 hours.  When done sift off grounds and then strain liquid through a coffee filter.
Ice coffee:
1 cup cold brew coffee
1 cup cold water
Milk or creamer (to your color consistency)
Sweetener (if you take it)
When I make my ice coffee it’s either 0 or 1 points plus (depending on the amount of skim milk I put into it).  Overall, I love it and cannot wait to experiment with more coffee flavors!


Have you ever made cold brew coffee?

Plated: Seared Skirt Steak with Corn Salsa and Lime Potato Salad & Hoison Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Rice Noodles

I decided to try out Plated for a second time after receiving my initial box.  There were 3 dishes that seemed really interesting to me this time around, but I eliminated one solely on the fact I guestimated the points plus values would be astronomical.  I talked about the Plated membership during my first review of the subscription service (see here: http://shannonslifestyle.blogspot.com/2013/06/plated-membership-ft-chicken-tacos-w.html).  As mentioned previously Plated is offering a free monthly subscription and 4-plates to anyone who signs up during the month of June using the promo code: junefreegift.
I was weighing my options between the two dishes I chose and a paella dish.  Figuring the paella would translate into far too many points plus values that I’d be comfortable with I decided to order the Seared Skirt Steak with Corn Salsa and Lime Potato Salad and the Hoison Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Rice Noodles.
The first dish I put together was the Seared Skirt Steak with Corn Salsa and Lime Potato Salad.  It took about 30 minutes to put together, which was quite simple since there was very minimal chopping and mixing involved.  The only thing I altered was I eliminated a tablespoon of olive oil, seasoned my steak in McCormick steak seasoning and when my skirt steak was finished searing, I let it rest, sliced it up and then returned it back to the pan because I prefer my steak dead and buried.
The one thing I will point out is the vinaigrette which went over both the corn salsa and the potato salad was rather spicy. The chili powder was a little overwhelming, but regardless of the heat from the spice it was a pretty tasty meal.  I was able to make 2 ½ meals out of all I was provided, so points plus wise my dish was 12 points plus values.  I had 2.5 oz steak, 5.5 oz potato and 1/3 the corn salsa.
Now onto the most delicious lettuce wrap I have ever had in my life that I will undoubtedly be making again and again and again.  Hoison Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Rice Noodles probably one of the most delicious and relatively simple meals I’ve whipped together that wasn’t one of my own creations. 
The only difference from the recipe provided was I eliminated 1 tablespoon of sesame oil.  Otherwise the recipe is exactly as stated.  With this meal I was able to make 3 dinners out of the entire box provided and 1/3 of this was 13 points plus values.  This dish was the most delicious and refreshing meal.  The lettuce wraps totally lightened up the dish, but still allowed it to be filling and delicious.  My boyfriend mentioned that it should be a staple on our food menu – which I think it may very well become.
Have you tried Plated?

Breakfast for Dinner

Having breakfast for dinner is starting to become a staple dish within my household.  My boyfriend isn’t a big breakfast guy, while I on the other hand am a breakfast girl.  Granted, my breakfasts are usually not as lavish as they’d be if they were for dinner, but regardless I’m having something in the morning!
This entire meal was really brought on because I purchased the new Al Fresco Country Style Chicken Sausage Breakfast Patties.  I’m a big fan of the Al Fresco sausage line and I was completely intrigued after finding out one sausage patty was only 2 points plus values.
I whipped up some scrambled egg substitute with some frozen pepper stripes in it, seasoned with pepper, salt and a handful of spices.  I did sprinkle a tablespoon of shredded fat free mozzarella over my eggs for a little added pizzazz.
I like to purchase shredded potatoes in a bag or even diced potatoes in a bag because you can typically have 3 ounces for 2 points plus.  Even if they are seasoned, I do re-season them with garlic, black pepper and a dash of salt.
As a staple to tie it all together, I garnished my plate with 2 slices of light Italian bread toasted and spritzed with spray butter.
For a side I had a few pieces of cantaloupe and 2 strawberries cut up.
The entire plate was 7 points plus.
What are some items you like to have for breakfast or even breakfast for dinner?

About the Blog

Shannon Lightening the Load – a statement that can be taken both literally and figuratively.  I started this blog as a place to share my weight loss journey with anyone who was willing to read along with me.  A sort of paying it forward, if you will.
I’m a real girl, who eats real food, who lives in an everyday world but still manages to lose weight and be healthy.  It’s true, I eat potato chips, cupcakes and snacks but the difference is I eat them in moderation, I know the points plus values associated with them and I allow myself to have things I want.  It’s all about moderation, not deprivation.  There isn’t one thing I cannot have because if I or someone says I cannot have it, I’m going to want it more than ever.  Plus, I’m all about following a plan I can manage and maneuver my entire life – not a fad diet which is going to make me crash and burn.
With my blog, I like to have a platform where I can talk about the different things that matter to me, while also having the ability to discuss passions of mine.  I blog about different dishes I’ve cooked (making sure to provide the original recipe to whatever dish I’ve recreated).  When I make a dish that is my own, I provide a recipe for that with the Weight Watchers points plus values associated with it.  I like to express my non-scale victories, my experiences and my honest opinion.
If you read my blog, you’ll know I’m a bit of a foodie at heart.  Because of this, I do feature Food Finds on my blog.  I find this to be so interesting because I recall when I first started Weight Watchers; the grocery store was a big sigh.  I loved shopping (still do) but the thought of having to calculate every single thing before buying it was tiring (but I still did it!).  The more I got accustomed to buying certain items, the less I had to recall how many points they were because it was all engraved in my brain.  These days when I find a new product, I like to share the points plus values of the item, the nutrition information (if I remember to photograph it) as well as my initial first impression/review of the product.  I recall pre-Weight Watchers I liked hearing what family/friends had to say about something that was new on the market because if they said it was awful, I’d typically steer clear of it.
I like to be able to share and help people.  From all this, to know that I perhaps helped one person makes my journey even bigger and brighter.

Trader Joe’s Multigrain Slims

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I am a self proclaimed carb-a-holic.  I love bread particularly bread straight out of the oven.  But since I try to limit my intake of certain types of bread (particularly warm sticks of bread) I’m always on a mission to find a new flavor/type of bread that’s unique, different and low in points plus values.
When Arnold’s came out with their flat breads I was sold. I used them for sandwiches, I used them as replacements for hamburger/hot dog buns and I even made grilled cheese sandwiches on them.  So while at Trader Joe’s, I spotted their Trader Joe’s Multigrain Slims AND they were a point plus value LESS than the Arnold’s brand.  Sold!
If you’re familiar with the Arnold’s flat breads, then these taste exactly the same (like a thin multigrain bread). The thickness it the same, they don’t taste any different and they’re only 2 points plus values!
One thing to keep in mind is Trader Joe’s breads typically do not contain preservatives so they tend to go bad (mold) quickly, so I wouldn’t suggest stocking up on these unless you plan on possibly freezing a pack.  Otherwise, they are delicious.  I stored mine on the counter top and they were good for the week.

Karma Wellness Water – Pineapple Coconut

While browsing the water selection at the local market I spotted a new product that I just had to try.  I love water, but plain water can get boring sometimes, especially when it’s hot out and I want a little flavoring in it (particularly when around others who are drinking frozen drinks, kool-aid, and sugary lemonades).
I admit the packaging kind of sucked me in at first.  It was a neat square bottle with a see-thru label.  The cap had a colored powder in it so I picked it up and gave it a whirl.  Karma Wellness Water is a natural, low calorie flavored water which is formulated with vitamins and antioxidants.  It’s literally jam packed with vitamins: A, D, E, B6, B12, Potassium, etc.
I think the coolest thing about this water is the fact that the flavoring is housed in the cap.  You have to peel the sticky covering off the top and push down (a bit hard, you’ll feel a pop) and the powder flavoring is released into the water.  A little shake and your beverage is transformed into the flavor and color of your drink choice.
Out of the 4 flavors available at my store the pineapple coconut seemed to be the most intriguing, so it’s the one I purchased.  Flavor wise it’s definitely pineapple with a hint of coconut.  It doesn’t have an artificial taste to it, it’s very smooth tasting. I quite enjoyed it. It’s also makes me feel a little fancy.
A whole bottle is 1 points plus value.
Have you tried any of the Karma Wellness Waters? If so, what is your favorite flavor?

Trader Joe’s Hummus with freshly ground Horseradish

I am and always have been a huge fan of hummus. I also tend to really love horseradish, typically in obscene amounts.  So when I saw this Trader Joe’s Hummus with Freshly Ground Horseradish I knew I had to pick it up without even a second guess.
I’ve been using the hummus on sandwiches as a condiment and I have to say it’s straight up delicious.  Flavor wise it’s definitely hummus, but in the background there is a slight tang of horseradish.  It’s definitely not overwhelming, overpowering or wowing – but it’s there, very mildly.  The hummus undoubtedly brings down the heat index of the horseradish and in turn gives it a very subdued flavor.  I would enjoy it if it were spicier, but all-in-all its fine as it is.
2 tablespoons is a serving size and it calculates out to be 1 points plus values.
What is your favorite hummus flavor?