Grilled Cheese

My niece and nephew were over this weekend. After they had been running around and playing I asked if they were hungry. I got two yeses across the board so I decided to make them something quick because I truthfully didn’t have anything prepared that would’ve been a quick small meal.  So I decided on grilled cheese sandwiches.  Theirs were made with your classic white bread and American cheese …. And I made one for myself on my light bread using fat free american cheese.
This is a great, quick meal where I’m able to have a sandwich with my niece and nephew and not have to sit on the “sidelines” and have my niece or nephew wonder why auntie isn’t having lunch with them.
The greatest part this sandwich is ONLY 3 points plus values!  How? Well, I use light Italian bread.  I buy the store brand because it’s cheaper but I do know Country Kitchen makes a version which is also 1 points plus value. Brand names differ region to region but if you can find a Light Italian they’re typically the same calories/points plus value wise.  For cheese … I use 1 slice of fat free American. Butter? I use a few sprays of spray butter on each side of my bread and toast it up until nice and crisp.
I’ve even jazzed my sandwich up in the past with some deli meat or if I want to keep it simple and light I’ve even added slices of tomato with some black pepper to season it.
QUESTION:
Are you a grilled cheese fan?

Tortilla Pizzas

Pizza is undoubtedly one of my favorite foods. I’ve made pizza like this for myself in the past, but on the night I made these, I was glad I had tortillas on hand. Why? Well, I purchased the wrong prepared pizza crust (I wanted the thin crust but bought regular crust) so I made a pizza for my boyfriend and made a “point comfortable” pizza for myself – or rather TWO pizzas! The only thing I was missing was the classic thick pizza crust, but nonetheless the flavor was there and that’s all that matters!
Making tortilla pizza is truly simple and they can be versatile depending on the flavors you’re looking for. I’ve used bell peppers, onions, banana peppers, turkey pepperoni, turkey sausage and hamburger. This time around I used fresh bell pepper, fresh red onion, and turkey pepperoni. I garnished it wit a sprinkle of oregano and a tiny dash of garlic powder.
I used ¼ cup of Barilla Traditional Pasta Sauce on each tortilla round and split 1/3 cup Kraft fat free shredded mozzarella over each tortilla, then doctored up with my pepperoni and veggies.
The greatest part? Both pizzas were only 6 points plus values.
QUESTION:
Do you like homemade lower point/calorie stabs at pizza?

Lunch: Po-taco


What is a Po-tacoyou ask? Well, it’s what I call the Frankenstein dish you get when you combine a baked potato and ground taco meat. I enjoy this because it’s filling, a unique flavor and I truly don’t miss the taco shell, tortilla chips or the soft tortillas.
Typically on taco nights I have a salad, but this is a nice shake up in the general gist of things. I had mixed up a batch of ground turkey taco meat for dinner, and I happened to use some of the leftovers for this – so this is what I ended up having for lunch the following day.  I cooked a potato in the microwave (7 ounces) and when done I cut it down the middle, seasoned with black pepper then loaded it with 3 ounces of turkey taco meat, then topped it off with 2 tablespoons chunky salsa.
The entire thing was only 7 points plus values and it was very satisfying and filling.
QUESTION:
How do you enjoy your tacos?

Lunch: Spaghetti Squash w/ Meatballs, Sauce and Garlic Bread

I was going to my boyfriend’s uncle’s house this weekend, with his mother and him to visit. I knew his mother was making homemade sauce and meatballs and since I didn’t want to tote along a measuring cup (because I visually can’t judge what a cup of pasta looks like), I decided to bring spaghetti squash to share with everyone.  I like bringing healthier alternatives to the table, regardless of where I am, and this was a perfect opportunity.
I had baked my spaghetti squash (seasoned with salt and pepper) the afternoon prior, shredded it and put it into the refrigerator.  I was quite pleased with how my spaghetti squash turned out because the last few I have made came out very wet. This one was perfect and reminiscent of al dente pasta.  The squash itself tastes like squash, but it does adapt to the flavors it’s paired with and due to it’s spaghetti like characteristics it makes for easy twirling on a fork.
At my boyfriends uncles we ended up having a late lunch. I had a helping of spaghetti squash, a ladle of homemade sauce and one meatball. I also had a small helping of garlic bread. It was a perfect meal – delicious, satisfying and I honestly didn’t miss the pasta.  And to think I was a little afraid of trying spaghetti squash with pasta sauce … now I’m a huge fan. So much of a fan I had spaghetti squash with pasta sauce for lunch the next day!
QUESTION:
Do you like incorporating spaghetti squash into meals?

Smart Ones Loaded Potato Soup

I picked up a box of Smart Ones Loaded Potato Soup while at Target. I had tried the Southwestern soup and was quite a fan, so I decided to try the other available flavors.  I’m not a big soup fan in general, and I’m usually not a fan of canned soups … I just feel those soups are tinny and taste “fake”, if that at all makes sense.  But with a frozen soup it tastes better, and perhaps just in my mind, it helps make it a little homier.
The Loaded Potato soup is described as “creamy potato soup loaded with sour cream, turkey bacon, and chives, topped with reduced fat cheddar cheese.  After heating the soup in the microwave, I gave it a swirl, let it cool for a few minutes and enjoyed. I have to say, this soup is very pleasant. The potatoes are a little “crunchy”, but they’re not raw and they’re certainly not mushy so it’s a proper consistency. It’s creamy, there are bits of cheese throughout it, and the turkey bacon is a main ingredient.  All the flavors blend together nicely and it really is a home run.  I wouldn’t say this is filling enough to be a sole contender in a meal, but with a side salad or even a small sandwich it’s a win-win.
A bowl of soup is 150 calories or 4 points plus values.
QUESTION:
Have you tried any of the Smart Ones frozen soups?

Power Steak Lettuce Wraps @ Panera


Panera launched their “Hidden Menu” earlier in the year and unfortunately (and oddly) enough the menu is not listed in-stores, but it is featured on the company’s website. This, like many hidden menu options, means many folks don’t know what healthier alternatives are available.  One thing I’ve noticed when ordering off the Hidden Menu at Panera locations, is that I need to know the exact name of the dish or the individual taking the order typically thinks I want a different dish. I will say, the longer the hidden menu has been active, the easier ordering off it has become.
With that, I decided to give the Power Steak Lettuce Wraps a shot.  The meal is quite simply loaded with power foods – and power foods are right up my alley.  The dish is pulled together with slices of steak, lettuce, tomato, red onions, cucumbers and a basil pesto drizzle. The dish is to also be accompanied by a fresh lemon for squeezing, but my salad did not have one present, which was fine because the basil pesto drizzle was more than enough.
Flavor wise the dish is delicious – it has that light quality from salad, but it’s bold with fresh vegetable flavors, pesto and good quality cut of steak (which is served chilled).  It’s listed as a “steak lettuce wraps” but trying to make a wrap out of this dish would be far too messy to even contemplate. So a fork and a knife do the trick and may very well keep you from wearing your lunch or dinner.
The meal itself is 210 calories or 5 points plus values. Quite worth it in my opinion!
If you’re interested in checking out any of the other items on Panera’s hidden menu, go to http://www.paneranutrition.com/and search under “Hidden Menu” and choose your item for nutrition information.
QUESTION:
What is your favorite dish to get at Panera?

Bahn Mi


I have a local Vietnamese grocery store that gets in fresh cooked foods every Saturday morning. I had to pop into the store to pick up some vegetables and seasonings to help make eggrolls. Since there I decided to pick up one of my favorite sandwiches – a Bahn Mi.
Incase you don’t know what a bahn mi is, it’s a Vietnamese sandwich which is made on a Vietnamese style French baguette – the bread itself is softer and chewier and not as “bready” and is comparable to a hoagie roll.  Every place tends to make them slightly different, but they all tend to follow the same line of ingredients.  This particular sandwich has seasoned seared beef as the protein and it’s loaded with fresh and pickled vegetables – cucumber, parsley (or cilantro, but this particular sandwich has parsley on it), and pickled daikon radish and carrots.  It’s brought together by a bit of mayonnaise and spicy chili sauce (or in some instances jalapenos).  The sandwich itself is delicious and so different from anything sandwich I’ve ever had. The ingredients are relatively simple but when together it makes a fabulous and delicious meal.
Since I did not make this, I had to guestimate at the points plus values. I looked up what bahn mi’s were points wise on the E-tools app and tried to guestimate as close as possible to the true value – 12 points plus. I did take the meat out of my sandwich and weigh it (it was 2 ounces), so that gave me a good estimate, plus an estimate for the bread and then the mayonnaise.  I do enjoy these and I do have them from time to time as a nice different meal.
QUESTION:
Have you ever had a bahn mi?

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Lean Cuisine Honestly Good Honey Citrus Chicken

I was awarded a Klout perk, so I was mailed a coupon to try out the new Lean Cuisine Honestly Good line. While shopping at Walmart, I browsed through the selection available and decided to pick up the Lean Cuisine Honestly Good Honey Citrus Chicken. I decided to have it for lunch.
What struck me as interesting at first was that the meal came with a number of step by step directions to follow before consuming. Unlike most frozen meals, this isn’t one of those you just throw in the microwave and retrieve in 5 minutes.  Inside the container there is a packet of sauce – you have to remove the plastic, retrieve the sauce and submerge it in a cup of water to thaw.  Putting the film back on the meal, you place it in the microwave for 3 minutes.  When done, remove the plastic, pour the sauce over the meat and return back to the microwave to finish cooking.  There are implicit directions that state the sauce MUST be cooked before consuming.  So when after 2 minutes, my food was still a little cold I put it in for another minute.
Looking at the meal after it came out of the microwave, I could tell the summer squash was soggy – but since there weren’t too many pieces, it was okay. Taste wise the meal is ok but it is nothing to brag about. Oddly enough, I found the pasta to be the best part – it was cooked al dente and seasoned just right. The chicken was rather soft and being a texture person that kind of weirded me out.  The sauce wasn’t bad, it blended the meal together.
I will say, these Honestly Good frozen meals are pricey as far as frozen dinners are concerned (roughly $4). You could essentially get two Smart Ones or two regular Lean Cuisine meals for the same price.  I wasn’t terribly impressed with this one, so I’m not sure if I’ll dabble into trying anymore.  By the way, the meal is 320 calories — 8 points plus values.
QUESTION:
Have you tried any of the Lean Cuisine Honestly Good meals?

Trader Joe’s Trader Giotto’s Garden Vegetable Lasagne


I spotted and picked up a new frozen dish at Trader Joe’s. I was in the mood for lasagna, it looked delicious and Trader Joe’s typically doesn’t let me down.  Trader Giotto’s Garden Vegetable Lasagne is a lasagna that is made with organic vegetables and organic whole wheat flour.  Since my boyfriend doesn’t like lasagna, it doesn’t make sense for me to make a big pan of it – so I rely on frozen lasagna OR my mothers lasagna whenever she makes it.
I opted to cook the tray in the microwave, per the box directions, instead of in the oven. Since the microwave I was using cooks fast, I set the cooking time in the middle of the cooking time range.  The dish was hot, but I found I’d prefer to have it cook for the maximum time to make it hotter and to help reduce any potential condensation build up from the meal going from the freezer to the microwave.
I find with frozen lasagna dishes I prefer vegetable lasagna and I have to say this one is perfect.  There’s a pretty fair serving, it’s packed with flavor and it’s incredibly filling.  The ricotta is mixed with spinach and there are small diced up pieces of vegetables throughout the dish.  I did enjoy this for lunch with a small side salad and it was more than enough to be sustainable.  I enjoyed it so much I plan on getting another for the freezer on my next Trader Joe’s trip.
The dish is 290 calories, which translates to 8 points plus values.  Totally worth it!
QUESTION:
Have you tried the Trader Joe’s Garden Vegetable Lasagne?

Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala Burger

I have dabbled into frozen vegetarian foods and have found I actually do enjoy them. Many veggie burgers give the illusion of a hamburger and since they are packed with flavor I really don’t miss the beef or chicken when enjoying the meal. That’s certainly the case with the Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala Burger.

I actually had never seen these at Trader Joe’s before. After seeing a few fellow Weight Watcher members post their burgers on Instagram I decided I had to give them a try. So on my last trip to Trader Joe’s I found the burgers without aproblem. I’m sure my oversight was more than likely me absently looking over them as I scanned the vegetarian burger section.

These particular veggie burgers are jam packed with diced up pieces of vegetables. They are flavored with indian spices, but it’s a very mildly spiced burger – not overwhelming in the least. The burgers themselves are rather dense – they’re not heavy as some veggie burgers can be. They’re not loaded with soy and filler, it’s almost a little airy, but that doesn’t mean they’re not satisfying because they are. You can tell these patties are chalk full of vegetables but in my opinion that made these far more enjoyable.

I’ve enjoyed these numerous times and found they are very versatile. I’ve had them on a multigrain slim with a squirt of ketchup and mustard with fresh tomato and I’ve also had a burger over a bed of salad. I think I enjoyed it the most over the salad because as you cut up the burger the burger bits kind of blend into the salad and just makes a really tasty treat. Although I do have plans to try these with a piece of garlic naan as my bread – I’m sure that’d make the flavor category soar through the roof and it would make it more of an Indian food night.

Each burger has 120 calories in it which is equal to 3 points plus values. Well worth it in my opinon.

QUESTION:
Have you tried the vegetable masala burgers?