Dinner: Shake & Bake Pork, Potato, Corn & Apple Sauce

This was a delicious and filling dinner I whipped together one night for dinner. It was honestly the quickest and easiest meal to put together and I forgot how yummy Shake & Bake was!  This was truly a “walk in the door, assemble, set it and forget it” type of meal. Dinner was done in 40 minutes – which was the amount of time it took for the pork to cook through.
I started off the meal by trimming the fat off my pork chops. Rinsed them under water then dropped them into the plastic bag that comes with the shake and bake.  I shook each pork chop up individually and put them onto a baking sheet.  Into the oven they went with the timer set.
I peeled and husked some corn, put it in a pot with a splash of milk and set it on to boil.  I then took my potatoes, rinsed them and popped them into the microwave for 8 minutes.  Yes – did you know you can have a baked potato straight out of the microwave? It’s my go to method when I want a potato because it makes it simple and I don’t have to wait 40+ minutes for it.
When everything was done, I measured out my serving and dinner was ready to rock and roll!  What I had was 4 ounces of pork with shake and bake on it (6 points plus), a 7 oz potato (4 points plus), a corn on the cob (2 points plus) and ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce (0 points plus).  Overall 12 points plus – filling and delicious!
What is a quick and easy meal you haven’t had in a while?

Hello … my name is Shannon

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Hello.  My name is Shannon and I’m a self-proclaimed Carboholic.  I also am attracted to things with the word “New” on them.  The “New” thing doesn’t get me into trouble as much as carbs do.  Okay, so not even carbs of all kinds … I’m most importantly talking about, bread!
I love bread. Always have. Bread, like almost any child, is a staple from a very early age. Toast, peanut butter and jelly, sandwiches, French toast, etc.  They all begin with bread.  Three of these were introduced to me as a child, minus, peanut butter and jelly.  Yes, I had my first peanut butter and jelly sandwich in my teenage years (I want to say I was 15 or 16 ) and I had it out of sheer curiosity. I know! When I say this to people I get sideways glances. But truth be told, I just never really wanted one … I mean as a child in my mind peanut butter was meant to be eaten on crackers, not bread!
I remember my mom coming home with a fresh stick of hot Italian bread from the local bakery. The smell would draw me (and my nose) in.  I would eat it either plan or with butter on it. To this day, if someone has a stick of hot bread in their house I’m going to sniff it out. I’m like a hound dog – it’s crazy. And it drives me absolutely insane when my local grocery store takes the fresh bread out of the oven because I swear they pump that smell through the ventilation system. My stomach starts growling and suddenly I want to make subs for dinner. Forget the groceries in the cart, subs! That’s when I breathe through my mouth and quickly find my way to the checkout aisle – sans stick of hot bread.
Since starting my weight loss journey I’ve sideways tackled the bread obsession. If I do have bread, its light bread, light wheat or multigrain slims. I buy pita bread from the local Lebanese bakery if I want pita bread – or I buy the wheat flax pita from the grocery store.  I admit the breads that I buy for myself aren’t a trigger for me. I don’t love light white bread.  BUTwhat I found this past week was that I subconsciously reach for bread to incorporate with meals that I may not necessarily need with a meal.
For instance, the week before last I was out of my element dog/cat/house sitting for my aunt and uncle while they were on vacation. Due to this I had to pre-plan every meal to a T. My usual staples weren’t at my fingertips so I had to eat what I brought with me.  Looking back at that week I was kind of subconsciously following the simply filling technique by eating more power foods (see here), and found I was satisfied and full after meals. If I had bread, it was a multigrain slim or light bread and it was with one meal – either with my egg salad or with a hamburger, etc. at dinner.  That week when I stepped on the scale my reward was a pretty hefty loss (nearly 5 pounds).  I was shocked.
Fast forward to going back home, being in my element and eating the way I tend to eat at home. I realized I wasn’t as satisfied as I was the week prior. By 5-days in, I felt I was a little bit bloated. Looking back at my week there were some days where I had a sandwich for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and I may have had a piece of bread to go along with dinner. I also wasn’t having my fruit salad as my nightly snack as I was the week prior.  It was definitely a learning lesson and one that has made me create a goal for myself this week.
My goal this week (as the weeks to follow) is to be more conscious when making choices surrounding bread. I want to try to have 1 serving of bread a day, but I’m not going to be overly strict on myself because I don’t like rules. I break rules. But I am going to question myself “Do I need to eat this as a sandwich?” and if the answer is no, I’m going to try it without the bread and see how I like it. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but I honestly like bread, I like sandwiches and I’ve lost weight eating them. But I’m trying to make healthier choices for myself. If I skip on the bread, I could provide my body with more protein at dinner or at lunch. Which means being satisfied longer … and that’s what I’m aiming for.
So what is one goal you’ve set for yourself this week or month?

Chewy Chips Ahoy! Brownie Filled Soft Cookies

Okay, I admit I was on the hunt for these Chewy Chips Ahoy! Brownie Filled Soft Cookies. Why? Well … they’re new but also because I kept seeing the chocolate chip cookie brownies in the baking aisle and part of me wanted those until I checked out the nutrition label AND the back of the box to figure out how to make them. Talk about not worth it.  But these little cookies satisfied that craving and were well under the points plus values. Plus, I could have one and it would satisfy that want and sweet tooth … so I bought them.
I’m normally not a soft cookie fan. I tend to like harder cookies OR I like a cookie that’s right in between … crispy and crunchy on the outside, slightly chewy on the inside.  These are undoubtedly a classic soft chocolate chip cookie BUT the brownie on the inside is a cooked brownie. It’s not a fudgy brownie; it’s a cooked cake like brownie.  The two together are none other than delicious.  They’re a decent size, not small (like the Reese Chewy Chips Ahoy), not large … medium sized in regards to packaged cookies. It tastes like what you would get if a brownie and a cookie married.
I had my brownie filled cookie and ate it too. Plus, for 80 calories and 2 points plus values, I felt it was justifiable and after eating it … it was worth it.  I admit, I did have 1 cookie in the afternoon and I had another cookie at night but I didn’t have anymore.  There are 15 cookies in a package – I offered cookies up to my mother, who had some and my boyfriend ate some during the day (and evidentially at night).  But when I woke up the next morning, the package was on top of the garbage and I know I didn’t eat them.
Have you tried any new cookies as of late?

Meat Sauce

One thing I really enjoy making is homemade sauce.  It’s pretty simple, it comes together on its own and I’m able to control what I put in it, which in turn controls the overall points plus value when the sauce is complete. I do make a few variations (meat, no meat, vegetables, etc.) but this is my staple “go-to” when it comes to meat sauce.  I find I can have an entire pot of sauce cooked and ready to roll in under 1 hour or I can let it simmer for a few hours.  Plus, the great thing with sauce is that it truly tastes better as it marinates in the refrigerator.
When I make sauce I make a huge batch (because why else make sauce?) and usually have folks over for dinner.  I always use some of it towards dinner, the remainder is used in other dishes during the week or I end up freezing it to take out whenever I need it.
Serves 24. ½ cup serving.  2 Points Plus Values.
          1 1/8 93% ground beef
          1 medium onion, diced
          1 heaping tbsp minced garlic
          2 (29 oz.) cans Contadina Crushed Tomatoes
          1 (14 oz.) can Contadina Tomato Sauce with Italian Herbs
          1 (14 oz.) Hunts Fire Roasted, Diced Tomatoes, slightly drained
          1 (14 oz.) Hunts Diced Basil, Garlic & Oregano Tomatoes, slightly drained
          1 (6 oz.) Cento Tomato Paste
          1/3 cup Reduced Fat Parmesan
          2 tbsp brown sugar
          Salt, pinch
          Black Pepper, pinch
          Red Pepper Flakes, pinch
          2 tsp garlic powder
          1 1/2 tbsp Oregano
In a large non-stick sauce pan, over medium-high heat, add ground beef and onion – season with salt and pepper. Cook the mixture breaking up the ground beef as finely as possible. Make sure to stir frequently so beef cooks evenly.  When half cooked, add in minced garlic.
When the beef has browned and cooked through, begin adding in your sauce. Crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes.  Stir to combine.
Add in parmesan cheese, garlic powder, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Stir until well combined.
Allow mixture to come to a slow simmer either covered or uncovered.  After roughly 20 minutes of simmering, slowly blend in the tomato paste. Make sure to blend the tomato paste in well to avoid large clumps.
Sprinkle brown into the sauce, and stir. As sauce thickens, taste and adjust seasonings. Typically I have to add more oregano, garlic powder, and salt.
Sauce can be simmered for 20 more minutes or up to 1 hour.

Baked Eggplant Cutlets

I had an abundance of fresh eggplants from my uncle’s garden after house sitting for a week, so I decided to make baked eggplant cutlets with them.  I used to fry up my eggplant cutlets, but I find I enjoy them a lot more baking them.  It cuts down on the fat, is non-greasy and you can control how much you want them to crisp up in the oven.  With these, the outside is crisp and the inside is softened and depending on the freshness of your fruit it can be a little sweet.
I started making my eggplant in batches and continued until I had a whole tray worth out.  I ended up making another batch with a small eggplant a few days later just to use up all the eggplants I had.
Serving sizes will ultimately vary depending on how thin or thick you cut your eggplants. I was able to get 3 eggplant cutlets (breaded) per serving – 4 servings per batch.  By the time I was done making my eggplants, I was able to make 3 batches of this – simply adding in the ingredients into each bowl 3 separate times until all eggplants were dipped.  Of course as I got to the smaller eggplants, I was able to have more slices per serving.
Serves 4. 3 Cutlets per serving. 2 Points Plus Values.
          1/3 cup fat free egg substitute
          ½ cup whole wheat breadcrumbs, seasoned
          1 tbsp reduced fat parmesan cheese
          Pinch of Salt
          1 tsp black pepper
          1 tsp garlic powder
          2 tsp oregano
          1 small-medium eggplant
          Baking spray (like Pam)
In a medium bowl combine breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano.  Stir until mixture is well combined.
Place egg beaters in a bowl.
Wash eggplant then slice to desired thickness.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a non-stick cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
Dip eggplant slice into egg mixture, drop egg dipped eggplant into breadcrumbs and coat. Place coated eggplant on baking sheet.  Repeat until no more egg and breadcrumb mixture is available.
Spray the top of the eggplants on the baking sheet, then place into the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, flip each eggplant then return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes.
Let the eggplants cool for roughly 5-10 minutes before serving.

Edy’s Limited Edition Slow Churned German Chocolate Cake Ice Cream

I’ve seen this Edy’s Limited Edition Slow Churned German Chocolate Cake Ice Cream in the market time and time again, but had not picked it up until last week. I’m not the biggest fan of chocolate ice cream, but I’m a big fan of German chocolate cake – so I figured why not try a different taste in regard to ice cream instead of the staple vanilla?
What sold me initially was 1) the name and 2) the mention of coconut and caramel in the description. I’m a sucker for coconut desserts.  According to the container it’s a chocolate light ice cream with a caramel coconut swirl and brownie pieces.  Opening the container it looked like regular chocolate ice cream with a few brownie pieces lingering throughout and an occasional caramel swirl.  Taste wise it tastes exactly like chocolate coconut, but this coconut flavoring does dissipate as you eat your ice cream and I was left with a mere chocolate flavor.  The caramel swirls are rather few and far between … they are in there, but there isn’t much.  Now the brownie pieces are more prominent but they’re not overwhelming.
I was quite pleased with the ice cream. I will say, after finishing my half cup serving the general sweetness of it really lingered with me.  Anymore than a half cup, I believe I would have felt sick just because of the sheer richness of it.
A ½ cup serving is 110 calories and 3 Points Plus Values. Quite worth it for an ice cream the whole family can enjoy without it being deemed the dreaded “diet food” term.
What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Trader Joe’s Salt Water Taffy

This was a rather impulse buy from Trader Joe’s.  I am a huge fan of salt water taffy, but I’m a little picky about the brand. Usually I only get some when we’re at the beach and it’s being made inside the candy shop. This way I can get a few pieces and I’m on my way.  But when I saw this I had to get it, it was $2 I believe, or definitely under $3.
The five flavors listed on the package immediately sold me: Cherry, Strawberry Banana, Red Licorice, Sour Apple and Watermelon.  Some of my favorite flavors, plus a few I had never tried before.  The package states a serving size is 7 pieces, which in my opinion is far too many pieces to eat in one serving, let alone in one day.  Salt water taffy is very sweet for me … I have 2 pieces and I’m good for the day. Anymore than 2 pieces and I’m cringing at the sugar rush.
The taffy itself is firm enough that it doesn’t turn into a wad of sticky mush in the wrapper. Once removed from the wrapper, you can feel how soft it is and once you eat it, you can tell how fresh and chewy it actually is.  I quite enjoy it and typically find myself really only having one because they are terribly sweet, as all taffys are, but once in a while I will have 2 but I cannot have more than that.
A serving is 170 calories which is equal to 5 points plus values.  My usual serving of 1 or 2 is 1 points plus value. Not bad for a nice cure to the sweet tooth.
Do you like salt water taffy?

New Favorite Snack! Yogurt Parfait

This has been my newfound favorite snack and occasionally on those days where I’m not terribly hungry in the morning, my breakfast.  I do switch up the yogurt flavors depending on my mood but usually it’s either Yoplait’s Vanilla Greek Yogurt (2ppv) or Dannon Light & Fit Coconut Vanilla Greek Blends(2ppv).
Back in my hay-day I used to order the McDonald’s Parfait because I felt that was a healthier choice to go along with my McDonald’s breakfast (which consisted of McDonald’s sandwiches). I realize most parfaits come with granola but I tend to skip on that step. I haven’t found a granola that is point comfortable for a satisfying enough serving size. Yet even without it, the parfait is satisfying and filling.
I sprinkle a layer of fresh blueberries and strawberries into the bottom of a bowl.  A few times I’ve had to use frozen no-sugar added strawberries which I let defrost for a little while before layering.  I then add in my single serving of Greek yogurt (either coconut or vanilla) followed by additional blueberries and strawberries.
It’s totally delicious because it’s light, satisfying, delicious and refreshing.  The greatest part is its only 2 points plus.
Do you make yogurt parfaits at home?

Eggplant Pizza

My leader shared a recipe for Eggplant Pizza and I decided I needed to try it. I had an abundance of eggplants from my uncle’s garden and after making boatloads of baked eggplant cutlets, I used the last eggplant to make eggplant pizzas.
I lined a baking sheet with a cooling rack and lined my eggplants on the rack. I brushed 2 teaspoons of olive oil over top and bottom of the eggplants, and then put them into a 350 degree oven to bake for 10 minutes. After that I removed them from the oven and put them back in for another 5.  The eggplants had browned (in color) but I found even just from baking them they were really soft and didn’t crisp up at all.  I hoped by returning them back to the oven with the sauce and cheese it might crisp up … but it didn’t.  Sadly, they looked a lot better than they tasted.  The eggplants were just loose and limp.  I think if I was to remake these, I would brush the eggplants, but lay them straight onto a Pam sprayed baking sheet and bake like that until they crisped up or firmed.  Then I would put the cheese and sauce on them and finish baking.
If you would like to give them a try in hopes you like them, here’s the recipe:
Serves 2. 3 Points Plus Values.
1 small eggplant, sliced
½ cup pizza or marinara sauce (I used Trader Joe’s Marinara sauce)
½ cup cheese (I used Fat Free Kraft Mozzarella)
2 teaspoons olive oil
Hormel Turkey Pepperoni
Place oil brushed eggplants on a cooling rack and bake in a 350 degree oven for 7-10 minutes.  Flip and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Spoon sauce onto each eggplant base, top with cheese and additional toppings, then return to the oven for 5 minutes or so until cheese is melted.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough QuestBar

I received this Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough QuestBar from QuestBar from their 2 free 2 bars promo with Hungry Girl.  As far as I can see the deal is still available (see here: http://www.questproteinbar.com/hungry-girl).
I’ve heard many great things about the chocolate chip cookie dough bar so I had high hopes. I’ve heard this particular bar is a lot better ripped up into chunks and baked as you would cookies.  The bar can also be eaten straight out of the package or after being warmed in the microwave.  Since I have yet to try any of the bars heated up, I opted for the oven method.
Opening the package, I found the bar was rather dry and not the same consistency of the other QuestBars I have tried. I ripped the bar up into pieces and popped my pan in the oven for a few minutes just to warm through. Taking them out of the oven, I tried them and I have to say … I wasn’t a fan. The flavor wasn’t tasty and it wasn’t nearly close to being reminiscent of cookie dough.  It had an awful aftertaste.  The crisping in the oven made them slightly crunchy as a cookie would be – but I couldn’t get past the flavor. My boyfriend tried it and said it was okay, but he didn’t eat anymore than the single bite he took.  I’m not sure if I had a bad bar, but it was just a complete miss for me.
I enjoy QuestBars because they are jam packed with fiber and protein, something that is typically missing from snack or nutrition bars.  So far, the Chocolate Brownie is the only contender in the slam-dunk category.
This particular bar is 190 calories and 5 Points Plus values.
Have you tried any QuestBars? If so, what’s your favorite flavor?