Garden Lites Pizza Souffle

After deciding to give the Garden Lites brand a second shot, I’ve been intrigued by some of the “newer” flavors, so I’ve been giving those a shot. One of the flavors on my list has been the Garden Lites Pizza Souffle and I was glad to find it at a local super Target.  I had it in the freezer for a couple weeks and decided to finally give it a whirl.
Pizza is one of my favorite foods and I’ll be honest when I say I was a little apprehensive. Pizza … soufflé … how exactly is this going to taste? The box describes the dish as “a savory veggie soufflé topped with our delicious pizza sauce & herbed mozzarella cheese.”
When it was done cooking in the microwave, I let it rest for a few minutes before taking the first bite and I have to say, this is DELICIOUS! The bottom part of the soufflé is a little wetter, but it’s not soggy, nor does it make it gross.  The sauce is so vibrantly flavorful that it really brings the dish to a whole new level. The cheese is like the icing on cake, where it really brings it all together. Out of all the Garden Lites I’ve recently tried (pumpkin spice & veggie chili and cornbread) this has to be my favorite.  The only downside … they’re not available at any location that’s a hop/skip away.
A serving (the whole 7 ounce container) is 200 calories or 5 points plus values. It’s delicious and relatively filling and could be suitable for a lunch alongside with a side salad.
QUESTION:
Have you tried any of the Garden Lites products? If so, what’s one you’d recommend trying?

Steak Tip Salad


All year round, Steak Tip Salad is my “go to” food whenever we are having steak.  I also order steak tip salad while out at restaurants, because it’s a nice twist from the normal (and occasionally boring) grilled chicken salad.  Sirloin is very flavorful and I find even with it on a plain ole garden salad, it gives it such a new and different flavor.  Sometimes when I’m feeling “fancy” I add feta cheese to it – in that instance I don’t need salad dressing because it’s flavorful enough with the 2 extra added toppings.
This particular dinner consisted of a tossed salad (lettuce, tomato, red onion, carrots and cucumbers) alongside 3 ounces of grilled sirloin steak tips with some grilled onions.  I topped it with 2 tablespoons of fat free poppyseed dressing.  My entire dinner was a delicious 6 points plus values!
Here’s a little tip I use while eating out.  In my mind I know the points plus values for a 3 ounce serving of sirloin (as well as grilled chicken) – so my trick is, when ordering out, I’ll ask the waiter how many ounces the meat is cooked (not raw). This way, even without a scale, I can figure out the points that way instead of trying to judge how many ounces visually, while failing miserably (because I have portion distortion).
QUESTION:
Do you like steak tip salad?

Snack: PB2 Dip

This is a delicious little snack I whipped together because I had whipped cream and strawberries in the fridge. I can’t say I gravitate towards strawberries and whipped cream – but I wanted the dip to have a different flavor.  Since I had purchased my PB2 on Amazon I decided to experiment with it.  I typically use my PB2 in smoothies and in dessert recipes, so I thought this could either be good or a complete fail.  Thankfully, it turned out to be an A+.
I put 1 ounce of fat free whipped cream into a bowl along with 1 tablespoon of PB2.  I mixed it together until well combined and then garnished with my cut up strawberries.  It was seriously delicious! The only thing that could have made it better would have been a little drizzle of chocolate syrup.  Then it would totally have a peanut butter cup theme going on.
The dip was a 2 points plus snack and totally worth it.
QUESTION:
How do you like to use PB2?

You can’t please everyone – you can ONLY please yourself


Weight loss is a wonderful thing.  When you finally undertake the idea (or if you want to call it, challenge) of losing weight to get healthy – it’s a life changing event.   Anything is possible as long as you set your mind to it and that has truly become my motto.
One thing I’ve noticed during my 3-year long journey is that not everybody you know (personally or second person) or even people online are going to be your personal cheerleader.  It’s fabulous to have an amazing support system, but there are times where you feel like “the world is against you.”  In times like that, it’s best to remain as positive as possible and think of why you started your journey.  I personally started my weight loss journey for me and for me only.  No doctor, no family member, no potential future possibilities pushed me to join Weight Watchers.  I made a conscious decision because I wanted this for me and that was the first time in my life I’ve ever wanted AND done something for myself that had substance to it (that is excluding going to college – but with that choice I had a lot of help and guidance along the way).
Personally, when I was at my heaviest I was told that I was too fat.  I was too unhealthy for my age.  I should really consider losing weight.  I had “such a beautiful face” (why is this a universal term?).  I was in a road to devastation.  There were comments after comments because at the end of the day, almost everyone had one.
When I joined Weight Watchers there may have been a bit of skepticism as to if I was going to follow the program and/or give up.  But as I continued along with it and continued to lose weight I heard a lot of supportive comments.  You’re doing so well.  I’m glad you’ve decided to change for yourself.  I wish you the best. You’re looking great.  Oh my god, how much have you lost?!  Comments like that continued for about a year and it really helped in boosting my confidence.  I had family, friends and people in my Weight Watchers meeting rooting for me, praising me for my dedication and cheerleaders.  It really helped.
When I hit about the ~160 mark my “slimness” started to show.  My collar bones were prominent (as they should be) – and I was still over 200 pounds.  I started to receive comments like: how much weight have you lost?  What is your goal weight?  I think you look perfect as you are right now.
There are times when the smaller (and I am talking still healthy in terms of your attending physicians, your BMI chart [according to the BMI chart I’m technically still ‘obese’] and even your weigh-ins) you get, the “nastier” (that’s a stretch – but sometimes words can get that way) the comments can get.  Not for everyone, but for some.  The comments about you being too fat suddenly turn into comments about you being too skinny.  You look unhealthy.  You look like skin and bones.  You look like a skeleton.  You need to stop losing weight.
I am not saying everyone says these things and I am not saying that everyone will experience things like this on their journey.  But what I am saying is that as long as you are happy and healthy that is ALL that matters.  Everything else is mute.  If your doctors approve of your physical condition and weight, if you’re eating your recommended daily in-take of food, if you’re doing things the healthy way (exercise, etc.) and you are in a happy place – that’s all that matters.  All those other comments are just words.  Words we learn (or will need to learn) to let bounce off you.
Sure, I have moments of weakness where I can’t take the negativity. I am human.  I have feelings. But it’s up to me to choose how I deal with it.  And I know deep down in my heart those words will not push me to be nearly 400 pounds again.  My happiness and my journey cost more to me giving up and appeasing anyone.  And even if I did gain weight – that wouldn’t please anyone. It certainly wouldn’t please me.  So I’m focusing on me and I’m focusing on me only.  My health. My happiness. My journey.  I’m not unhealthy; I don’t starve myself (I LOVE FOOD) and my doctors are the happiest they have ever been with me in my LIFE.
I think we (me) sometimes need to remember that we were a particular weigh/size for so long that those who were around us have a hard time seeing the new us.  Even if that transformation took 3-years, it’s still a drastic transformation.  But in the end of the day – the only person you can aim to please is yourself.  So that’s all I’m going to do because I enjoy happiness too much to let anyone take it from me.

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?

Spotted: Panera Dressing at Target


A few weeks ago I went shopping at Target and while in the refrigerator section (near the fruits and veggies) I found bottled Panera salad dressing.  I at first did a double take because my initial reaction was “Panera bottles dressings?!”  I don’t eat at Panera often, but from what I do know; Panera is not shy on the fat and calories associated with many of their dishes.  Scanning the dressing options I saw two fat free options: Poppy Seed and Raspberry Vinaigrette.
I calculated the points and found the Fat Free Poppy Seed (as well as the Raspberry Vinaigrette) were both 1 points plus for a 2 tablespoon serving.  I figured I would use the Poppy Seed a lot more on salads than I would the Raspberry, so the Poppy Seed went into my cart (I’ve actually since purchased another bottle because it’s THAT good).  My mother introduced me to Poppy Seed dressing years ago but that dressing is 5 points plus for 2 tablespoons and TOTALLY not worth it.
This particular dressing is “looser” in consistency (think like a slightly runnier creamy Italian).  Its sweet and a distinct poppy seed dressing taste.  Definitely a great addition to any salad or grilled chicken salad!

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

This past week I decided I wanted to do a little baking and Spice Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookieswere on the menu!
I wanted to make these the week prior, but time just didn’t allow so I went ahead and whipped these up over the weekend and boy, oh boy, were they delicious!  Not only were they delicious, but they were so simple to make.  It involved opening packages and a can, dumping the contents into a bowl and measuring out chocolate chips and walnuts.  Easy as pie.
The Points Plus values do vary depending on the amount of cookies you make so your individual recipe would have to be thrown into Weight Watchers Recipe Builder to uncover the points plus value per serving.  I ended up making 68 cookies and it made each cookie 1 points plus value each.
These cookies are softer cookies – but they are heavenly.
Ingredients:
  • 1 box Spice Cake Mix
  • 1 can 100% pure pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie)
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • ~1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Blend spice cake mix. Pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin together until evenly combined and there are no bumps left.  Add in the chopped walnuts and chocolate chips and fold until combined.
Using a melon baller, teaspoon or the tip of a tablespoon drop cookies onto a non-stick cookie sheet.  Note: the cookies don’t really rise or spread so having them close together (but not touching) on the pan will not affect the end result.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for roughly 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Cooking times vary oven to oven, so it may take up to 15 minutes to bake.
Last but not least – enjoy!

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?

Pizza in a Pan

After trying a cheeseburger casserole last week I got to thinking what could I do with the remaining pasta I had leftover to make a delicious, simple dish.  Well, pizza is my utmost favorite food so that sent my mind into over drive.  Typically when ordering pizza I like to get a loaded veggie pizza – but my boyfriend only eats pepperoni pizza so we typically settle for pepperoni pizza so we don’t have to buy TWO pizzas, which is craziness.
I pulled up my handy dandy Weight Watchers recipe builder and started adding ingredients I’d want in this dish and was surprised to see how point friendly it was.  I jotted down the 2 ingredients I didn’t have at home to pick up at the market and off and running I went.  The great thing about this dish is you can really prepare the meat sauce beforehand – whether it be the day before or even a few hours before whipping together.  Remember the longer a sauce sits, the more flavorful it becomes!
The great thing about this dish is you get the dough action from the pasta, you get the cheesiness and you get a ton of meat and a nice blend of vegetables to make it a healthy and hearty meal.

Serves: 10
Points Plus Values (w/ cheese): 6 Points Plus
Points Plus Values (w/o cheese): 5 Points Plus
Serving size: 1 Cup
Ingredients:
– 1 1/8 pounds 93% lean ground beef
– 1 large onion (or 2 mediums), diced
– 2 small red peppers, diced
– 2 tablespoons minced garlic
– 4 ounce Hormel turkey pepperoni, quartered
– 8 oz uncooked Rotini pasta
– 2 tablespoons tomato paste
– 1 Jar Light Ragu – Tomato & Basil
– 1 can diced tomatoes (drained of almost all liquid)
– 1 cup Reduced Fat Sargento 4-Cheese Mexican (you can use mozzarella but I had this leftover from a previous recipe)
  Italian seasoning (to taste)
 Garlic powder (to taste)
 Black pepper (to taste)
 Sea salt (to taste)
Instructions:
Cook hamburger with onion and garlic in a non-stick skillet until cooked through. Break up hamburger as finely as possible while cooking.
Place red peppers in a baking dish, spritzed with Pam and bake at 350*F for about 10 minutes, until peppers are softer.
Add red peppers, quartered pepperoni, canned tomatoes and jar of Light Ragu sauce to the pan and stir to combine.  Season with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, black pepper and sea salt to taste.  I tend to not measure my dry seasonings so I eyeball … but if I had to guestimate I’d taste 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning and 1 teaspoon sea salt and black pepper.
Add in tomato paste and stir to combine, let simmer for approximately 2 minutes.
Set a pan of water onto boil, seasoned with a little bit of salt (to prevent sticking).  Once boiling add in 8 ounces of pasta and cooked until your liking.  I tend to go with al dente which is usually done in 10 minutes (I use Barilla pasta so it takes a little longer to cook).
Drain pasta and combine with cooked sauce.  Stir to combine.
Transfer contents to a large baking dish, sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese.  Place pan into a 350 degree oven and bake for roughly 10 minutes until cheese is cooked through.

All that’s left to do is enjoy!
 meat sauce
 Pasta w/o cheese
 w/ cheese

Broccoli, Tomato & Onion Omelet, Turkey Bacon & Toast

Talk about a breakfast of champions!  If this isn’t it, I don’t know what is.  I was in the mood for an omelet so I decided to make myself one with some liquid egg substitute.  Since I didn’t want a plain jane omelet I went through the fridge and took out a few items I had cut up for different meals and combined them into this delicious creation.
I poured ½ cup liquid egg substitute into the bottom of a heated nonstick pan and seasoned with some Mrs. Dash spicy flavoring, garlic powder and oregano.  I then added in some chopped up tomatoes, broccoli and red onion (which I zapped in the microwave for a few seconds to soften).  I let it cook up on medium heat until cooked through enough to flip.  I then squeezed it a bit (I like my eggs almost “well done”) so I cooked it for a bit on each side until it was – essentially “dead”.
I paired it with 3 slices of Butterball Ultra Thin & Crispy turkey bacon and 2 slices of light wheat bread which I toasted.  I topped my omelet with 2 tablespoons fat free mozzarella, sriracha and reduced sugar ketchup.  So delicious and incredibly filling!
Weight Watchers points plus wise this ONLY cost me 4 points plus.  Worth every point.

QUESTION:
Do you like making omelets?