Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken

I’ve heard countless times how much the Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken was one of the greatest frozen dishes sold at Trader Joe’s.  I admit, I’d looked at the bag time and time again but always passed it up due to its higher points plus value.  Finally, on one shipping trip with my boyfriend we decided to pick it up to try something different.
Cooking it per the directions on the bag (in the oven) and then coating it with the mandarin orange sauce I have to say this is pretty amazing and I completely understand why it was so widely raved about.  The chicken is evenly coated in batter and once baked it comes out with a nice crunchy coating, but not crack your tooth crunchy.  The mandarin orange sauce is orangey and sweet but not overpowering on any flavor level.  Since the chicken is hot out of the oven once it’s tossed in the sauce, everything gets coated nicely.
A 1 cup serving (140g) is 9 points plus values.  Sure, it’s a little high, but when you think of all you are getting and compare it to a similar dish you may order out at a Chinese restaurant you are getting a far better “bang” for your buck (both cash and points plus wise).
I served this up with some ¾ cup basmati rice and some fresh steamed broccoli and carrots.  The whole dinner was 13 points plus values and well worth it.  It was filling, satisfied my craving for Chinese food and there was more than enough to feed four adults.
The only thing that could possibly make me happier would be if Trader Joe’s could come up with a general tsao’s version just like this mandarin orange dish.  It would be the epitome of amazingness.   C’mon TJ’s – I have faith in you … show me some (more) magic!

QUESTION:
Have you tried the mandarin orange chicken from Trader Joe’s?

Eating out @ Chick-Fil-A


Chick-Fil-A is hands down my favorite fast food restaurant.  I enjoy Wendy’s, but Chick-Fil-A is where it’s at. Sadly, there isn’t a Chick-Fil-A 5 minutes from my house … so needless to say I don’t get Chick-Fil-A very often because I need to travel to enjoy it.  But when I am in an area where there’s a Chick-Fil-A it usually becomes s lunch or dinner option.
I find Chick-Fil-A offers pretty healthy food options.  Their fried chicken options aren’t terribly high in points when in comparison to chicken sandwiches at other fast food restaurants (i.e. Wendy’s, McDonald’s and Burger King).  If I am in the mood for a sandwich the Chargilled Chicken Sandwich is my staple – which is what I ordered.  I opted to go with a meal so I ordered a diet coke and instead of going with the waffle fries (that I love) I decided to get a fruit cup.  The fruit cup has chopped up apples, strawberries, grapes and mandarin oranges in it.  You can also opt for a side salad (I suggest the fat free honey mustard dressing) but I really wanted a fruit cup, so a fruit cup is what I got!
This meal is completely filling and satisfying for me. The sandwich comes without any “dressing” on it, so I typically opt to put a little honey mustard BBQ sauce or ketchup onto it – just my personal preference with sandwiches, but it’s delicious with or without any dressing on it.
The greatest part is the sandwich itself is only 7 points plus values.
QUESTION:
What is your favorite fast food item to order when out?

Trader Joe’s Chicken Asada


I purchased this Trader Joe’s Chicken Asada meal for my boyfriend and I when we were going to be going away for our anniversary.  I figured having at least one meal that was going to be point friendly would be best for me. After purchasing, I found out our hotel did not have a refrigerator or microwave in the room – but the staff advised that they’d gladly heat anything up for me in the staff microwave.  That put dampers on bringing meals for the few days we were there – but that made having dinner at the hotel a score for the first day there.
The Chicken Asada meal comes with 2 servings in the container.  It’s sold in the refrigerator section at Trader Joe’s because all you need to do is heat it up in the microwave and your meal is ready to roll.  It consists of grilled chicken, poblano peppers, red peppers and onions.  I was quite surprised at the sheer amount of chicken I was able to have in my meal.  It looked like something you would order at Chili’s but ten times better!  It tasted delicious, fresh and flavorful.  The greatest part was that the serving (1/2 the package) was ONLY 5 points plus values!
My boyfriend and I ate this with wheat flax tortillas, so we were able to have chicken asada tortilla wraps.  It was absolutely delicious!  This is so good I actually have one in my freezer, which I’ll probably be taking out this week for lunch.  Yum!
QUESTION:
Have you tried the Chicken Asada meal from Trader Joe’s?

“Naked” Chicken Parm


I love chicken parm but I don’t like how heavy it is nor do I enjoy how it makes my stomach feel hours after eating it.  Because of that I can’t say that I have chicken parm very often. I occasionally make a lighter version at home (a quick and easy way is to use frozen chicken patties that are lightly breaded) when I want a bready version.
At the end of the day, chicken parm is solely about the sauce and cheese that is on the chicken (well, at least for me).  That after all is what makes it chicken parm!  We had some thin sliced chicken cutlets in the freezer, so I took them out to defrost and decided to try my hand at naked chicken parm.  I seasoned my chicken up nice and well on both sides – I eyeball my spices, I don’t measure I just use what I am comfortable with. Since I feel there is nothing worse than bland chicken, I may have over seasoned them – but that’s fine because you end up losing some of the bits onto the bottom of the pan.
I paired my portion off with 1 ½ cups of Carba-nada pasta with ¼ cup Light Ragu tossed with it. Totally delicious and it was as filling as going to an Italian restaurant would have been.  Well, that without having a sick feeling tummy!
Serves 6. 6-8 Points Plus (depending on the weight of the cooked chicken before adding sauce and cheese onto it I served up 3 ounce pieces making the chicken 4 PPV before sauce and cheese)
Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ pounds thin sliced chicken cutlets (no skin/fat)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups Light Ragu – Tomato & Basil
  • 1 ½ cups Fat Free Shredded Mozzarella
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • Garlic & Herb Mrs. Dash
  • Basil
  • Oregano
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick skillet on medium to medium-high heat.
Liberally season chicken on both sides with black pepper, salt, Mrs. Dash, basil and oregano. Use your judgment depending on your taste buds – I like a bold tasting chicken so I liberally seasoned both sides.
Cook chicken through on both sides – not moving the chicken to allow it to brown before flipping it.  When chicken is cooked halfway through (you can see the white creeping up the chicken cutlet) flip and let it finish cooking through.
When the chicken is done let it cool for at least 5 minutes to let the juices sink back into the chicken. Weigh out your portion (allowing for at least 1 point plus to go towards the olive oil used in the pan – so for instance a 3 ounce piece of chicken will be 4 points plus).  Note: The sauce and the cheese each add 1 points plus values each.
 
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Lay the weighed out chicken portion in a metal pan, lined with tinfoil (to prevent sticking). Spoon ¼ cup of sauce over the chicken and gingerly sprinkle with ¼ cup fat free mozzarella.  Add a piece of tinfoil to the top of the pan and place into the oven to allow the cheeses to melt and the sauce to get bubbly – about 4-5 minutes.
You can serve this up on toasted garlic bread for a chicken parm sandwich, you can eat it alongside pasta (or Carba-nada as I did), or you can eat it along or with some steamed vegetables.  Whichever is your preference – it’s good in any way, shape or form!

Trader Joe’s Chicken Bread Medallions with Coconut Red Curry Sauce

One afternoon when I stumbled into Trader Joe’s to do a quick mini food haul for the week I happened to spot this curry dish in the refrigerated food section.  I love curry (but I don’t like immensely hot curry).  Growing up my FAVORITE dish was Jamaican curry chicken. When I read that it was mixed with coconut I had to have it. I love coconut in foods (particularly coconut and red bean rice) so I figured if it was even spicy, the coconut would cut back on the heat.
It just happened to be this was the “dish of the day” they were serving up samples of.  I asked for a sample of it and immediately was in a food induced heaven.  It was delicious!  So delicious, I bought two packages.
Upon getting home, my boyfriend looked at the dish and wouldn’t eat it (he’s visual with his foods and the creamy sauce was a no-go).  Even though he didn’t want it, I was able to stash one in the freezer and heated the other up for dinner and lunch.
I do want to point out the nutrition label states the container houses FOUR 1 cup servings.  After heating it as directed, I found there was 1 ½ perhaps (if I really scrapped the bowl) 1 2/3 cups of chicken and curry sauce within the container.  No where near that 4 cups listed on the label.  I realize with frozen dishes the amount listed generally is listed as a “rough” estimate.  Because of this, I said the serving I ate was the equivalent of 2 cups – just doubling the amount and giving it extra points.  I’m not sure if perhaps the nutrition information was misprinted, or if perhaps the containers were made smaller than they should have been – but there are definitely not 4 servings present.  I’ve purchased this a few times (because I really do love the flavor!) and each time I double the nutrition information because I eat a cups worth.
I’ve eaten this paired along brown rice and a vegetable – I’ve also eaten it served over a bed of vegetables (green beans and carrots).  I’ve also eaten my serving of curry chicken along with a salad.  All ways are delicious but the rice with a veggie side is undoubtedly the best because it makes it feel “homier”.
1 cup serving according to the label is 4 Points Plus – but I calculate a 1 cup serving to be 7 points plus.
Confusing label aside – I give this 2 thumbs up!
QUESTION:
Have you tried the Chicken Bread Medallions with Coconut Red Curry Sauce?

Carba-Nada Broccoli Alfredo with Breaded Chicken Tenders


I found out about the Al Dente brand Carba-Nada noodles thanks to a fellow Weight Watchers member whom I follow on Instagram.  After seeing a few dishes she made with the noodles, I decided to go on the hunt.  And by hunt, I meant stalk.  I checked a few of my local stores pasta sections but continued to come up empty handed – so I went to the Al Dente website and did a search for my local area to see what stores sold the brand.  The only downfall is the search gives you stores that sell the brand not the particular type of pasta you are looking for.  There were only 2 local stores (one that I knew and the other I didn’t) that sold the brand – so I called the store closest to me, that I was familiar with and had a customer service rep take a peak in the pasta aisle to see if they sold Carba-Nada.  To my surprise she said they did in the original flavor and the roasted garlic flavor.  So I ran to the store and picked up a bag of each (they were around $5 a bag) but I do know if you cannot find it in your area you can purchase on Amazon – granted it’s a little more expensive, but they are available.
So what is so great about this pasta?  1 ½ cups (dry) is ONLY 3 points plus values!  That is AMAZING!
Enough of my bragging aside – onto the meal I created.  I went ahead and boiled myself off 1 ½ cups of roasted garlic Carba-nada pasta.  When done, I mixed in some steamed broccoli I had cooked (about 1 cup), a little salt, black pepper and ½ cup Ragu Light Parmesan Alfredo (3 points plus – 2 servings).  I mixed together so all ingredients were combined and plated it up.  I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to see how MUCH was on my plate for only 6 points! Usually with regular pasta, I get 1 cup and the sauce of my choice depends (whether homemade or bottled).  Carba-nada noodles definitely help me get my “moneys worth” on my plate!
For a protein I baked off some Purdue Simply Smart Lightly Breaded Chicken Tenders in the oven.  Since I stumbled upon these frozen chicken tenders (as well as the little nuggets) I have been obsessed.  They’re white meat chicken, delicious and very low in points.  My boyfriend really enjoys them, which is a double positive.  What’s plated is 3 ounces (a serving) is only 3 points plus.  Delicious.
9 points plus for all on my dinner plate and it was fabulous.  There was so much I ended up eating half, and finishing the rest of it later on that night.
QUESTION:

Is there any dish you’ve wanted to lighten up lately?

Dinner @ Remington’s Restaurant (Warwick, RI)


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My boyfriend and I went away during the beginning of April to celebrate our 2 year anniversary.  Since neither of us had ever been to Rhode Island, we didn’t really know what we were going to do (outside of hit up Dave & Busters and go to the Casino).  We wanted to go out for dinner for our anniversary, so after doing some online searching I found a pretty nice restaurant which had a fairly decent menu.  My boyfriend is a pickeier eater and since I am a Weight Watchers member I look for foods that aren’t going to totally make me feel sickly after eating.  The greatest part was the restaurant wasn’t too far from the hotel we were staying at and their menu had a few choices for my boyfriend and at least one that was a total “must have” for me.
I’ve mentioned countless times how I am such a lover of the Restaurant.com website.  Not only because it allows for me to save money, but it also allows me to try restaurants I perhaps wouldn’t otherwise because I am getting a discount.   The website typically sells gift certificates such as $10 for a $25 gift certificate (but please note most gift certificates come with stipulations so make sure you read the fine print – most are like spend $35 if you have a $25 gift certificate, etc.).  Another thing I love about Restaurant.com is that once you have an account, you get e-mails pretty frequently notifying you of sales such as $2 for $10 gift certificates, or $5/7 for $25, etc.
Okay, enough bragging about the website I purchased a $25 gift certificate for $2 which allowed my boyfriend and I to save some money on our anniversary dinner (saving us $23 off dinner right off the bat) – which is useful, particularly when going away because a penny saved is a penny to be spent elsewhere!
I ordered the Savory Herb Grilled Chicken Breast which according to the menu was “Light and healthy with grilled Zucchini, Summer Squash, Roma Tomato, and Asparagus
served with Roasted Red Pepper Caponata“.  I was surprised with the presentation but what surprised me most was the flavor.  This was one of the most delicious chicken dishes I have ordered out from a restaurant in a very long time.  The red pepper caponata was very unique it was slightly sweetened with raisins.  The whole dish was fabulous and I only wish all local restaurants in my area sold a dish such as this one.  At dinner I ate half my meal.  It was very filling, very flavorful and delish.
Not pictured (my camera ate the photograph) is my boyfriends meal – he ordered the Steak “Frites” which was a Grilled New York Sirloin Steak served with Maitre D’ Butter (which he quickly removed) and French Fries.
QUESTION:
Do you preplan your meals before going out?

Trader Joe’s Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken

I picked up this package of Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken from the refrigerator section at Trader Joe’s figuring it would be a quick and easy addition to any lunch.  I love grilled chicken, but considering I live in New England and even though the weather is continuously fluctuating it is definitely not grill worthy weather.  I also tend to enjoy a quick and easy lunch especially on days where there 1) aren’t any leftovers and 2) when I just want a simple salad and need something to throw on top of it.
Originally I was looking for the teriyaki flavor I had heard Trader Joe’s sold, but after not finding it, I settled on the lemon pepper.  The chicken itself is already cooked before being placed into the container and the chicken pieces are topped with a few slices of fresh lemon.  The packages houses four, 3 ounce servings of chicken and heating it up is quite an easy task.  The plastic has to be vented and the whole container is microwaved for a few minutes to heat through.
The only downside is, the chicken after re-heating it (if you are not going to eat it all in that one serving) can get a little dry after reheating in the microwave the second day.  Granted, I’m sure the first heat through in the packaging could be skipped which would eliminate the dryness.  I split the chicken into 2 meals – each for two separate lunches.  Straight out of the package the chicken is nice and moist with a charcoal flavoring on it (from grilling), but after the 2ndreheat it starts to lose that moistness – which is expected when heating foods in the microwave.
A 3 ounce serving is 3 Weight Watchers Points Plus, whereas a 6 ounce serving would be 5 points plus.  Definitely a great buy for anyone looking for a “on the fly” lunch.
QUESTION:
Have you tried any of the prepackaged, prepared meats at Trader Joe’s?

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Trader Joe’s – Trader Giotto’s – Chicken Marsala


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I picked up this Trader Joe’s Chicken Marsala in the refrigerated section during one of my recent grocery hauls.  I was eyeing the chicken parmesan but since my boyfriend doesn’t like cheese, I didn’t want t be stuck eating both servings – so I opted for this.  It had a similar fried chicken quality, so it would curb that food want.  Sure, my boyfriend doesn’t like mushrooms either, but if you don’t put them on the chicken the flavor isn’t there.
The dish is provided containing two servings (which I admit are two large pieces of chicken).  Since chicken marsala is not something I would make at home, I felt this was a justifiable purchase.  I heated the dish up in the microwave per the package directions – 2 ½ minutes later it was done and ready to be served.
My boyfriend and I ate it alongside some green beans.  It was undoubtedly filling – I had half my serving and had to wait a while before I could read the remainder.  The chicken wasn’t dry – which is sometimes the case when you have to heat poultry in the microwave.  The sauce was flavorful and the provided mushrooms in the sauce were just enough without being overpowering.  Sauce wise I felt there was more than enough sauce for both cutlets (to drizzle over the top or to even drizzle over some pasta on the side if you fancy that).
I gave this two thumbs up.  Weight Watchers Points Plus wise – the serving will cost you 8 points plus – but it’s definitely worth it!
QUESTION:
What is your favorite Trader Joe’s meal?

Trader Joe’s Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage

I have become a lover of Trader Joe’s and with that I allow myself to be adventurous and try new things.  I primarily stick to the things that are Weight Watcher’s Point friendly for me.  There are some things I’d like to try but I’m just not into the nutritional information enough to splurge.  Every time I shop at Trader Joe’s I find myself bringing home 2-3 (or more…) new things that  haven’t tried before to test out.
During my last shopping trip these Sweet Apple Chicken Sausages were on my list.  I ended up putting them in the freezer because I wasn’t sure when I wanted to make them – that was until this week when I decided I wanted breakfast for dinner.
These chicken sausages have a really low point value (3 ppv) for a sausage and they are a pretty decent size.  I’ve had pork apple sausages before and I really enjoyed them – but would never repurchase now that I follow WW because I would seriously cringe at the points.  I find with my weight loss journey there are some things that are worth the splurge, while others just aren’t worth it for me.  So for the things that aren’t worth it – I find substitutes and I am happy to say this is an excellent substitute!
The sausages are definitely a sweet apple flavor – so I’d suggest pairing them up with breakfast items (eggs, pancakes, waffles, etc.) or if you’re adventurous pair them up with a dinner item.  They are precooked so they only have to brown up until the internal temperature is over 150F.  I did find since these are sweet, the natural sugars in them come out while cooking so they want to “burn” in the pan – but it’s really the sugars crystallizing.  I ended up adding some water into the pan to keep my kitchen from potentially getting smoky.
Overall – 2 thumbs up.  Even my picky eater boyfriend really enjoyed these!
QUESTION:
Have you tried any of the sausages at Trader Joe’s?