Sunday, March 23, 2014

Healthy Cinnamon Crisps

It's been a long time since I've been here.  It's been quite a roller-coaster for me, but I am trying to get back on track and I'm on my way to losing weight again.  yea me!

I found a new favorite product.  I can't get enough.  Have you heard about Hungry Girl Flatout Breads?  They are a-ma-zing!  Heartier than any diet bread on market, and healthier than any that I've found.  You've got to take a look at the product line and go to the store locator to find them near you at  Please be aware that you will NOT find them in the bread section.  They are in the deli or bakery area.

I have tried the Rosemary and Olive Oil Foldit, the Spicy Italian Thin Crust Flatbread, the Flatout Healthy Grain Harvest Wheat, the Traditional White Foldit, and the 100% Whole Wheat with Flax Foldit Flatbread.  All of them are super delicious and so very healthy.  You'll have to look at their website to see the incredible nutrition stats.

The recipe I'm going to share today uses the 100% Whole Wheat with Flax Foldit Flatbread.  It has just 90 calories, 2.5g fat, 360mg sodium, 15g carbs, 7g fiber and 7g of protein.  Holy cow!  All that fiber and protein packed into a single serving.  Wow!

They are great straight out of the package and made into any type of sandwich.  My personal favorite way to eat them though is crispy.  I like to bake them in the oven at 350F for 10 minutes to get them crispy like a cracker and pile them with toppings.  I'll have to make more posts about some of those coming up.

Ok, so tonight I wanted a sweet treat.  I decided to make cinnamon crisps with my Whole Wheat with Flax Foldit Flatbread.  Here's what I did...

Preheated the oven to 350F.  Put the Fodit on a baking sheet and sprayed it with (generic) butter flavored Pam.  Then I sprinkled 1 teaspoon of cinnamon sugar onto each half.  I used a pizza cutter to cut it in half and then into strips (laying flat and being careful not to overlap them).  I put them in the oven for 10 minutes.  That's it!  They come out like a crispy warm cracker with a nicely sweet coating.

And wait until you hear the stats for this tasty little treat!  123 calories, 2.5g fat, 360mg sodium, 23.4g carbs, 7g fiber and 7g protein.  This has a low low low Weight Watchers Points Plus of 3!!!  I think anyone can fit this yumm-o snack into their healthy diet plan, don't you?

For those of you not sure on the ratio for cinnamon sugar, the best bet is 4:1.  Try 1/4 C sugar with 1 Tbsp cinnamon.  (And if you decide you don't like them as crispy as I do, try 7 or 8 minutes in the oven instead of 10.)

Happy snacking!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Best Breakfast Potatoes

It's been quite a while since I've been on here and posted anything.  The reason being I've been having a hard time maintaining my own eating plan.  These past few months I've dealt with bipolar problems, and my father passed away.  Neither situation is good for disciplined eating and all for emotional eating.  I am trying hard to get back on track.  I've been talking to a nutritionist again, and in a couple weeks I am going to start talking to an exercise coach.  My daughter joined a gym; it looks really nice and I think I am going to join to.  You just can't beat $10/mo!!!

Anyways, I just wanted to put up a quick post.  This one is hard for me to calculate any nutritional information for because it really depends on the type of potato you use and how much (or how big your waffle iron is).  I'm just going to give you the info for 1 cup of fresh potato to make it general and easy.

You can use any type of frozen potato (tater tots, diced hash browns or shredded hash browns).  I have to admit, I have not tried this with fresh potatoes.  If you try it, let me know how well it worked out for you.  I'm thinking they would have to be cooked a little first to get them soft enough to get pressed by the waffle iron.

UPDATE:  The other day I used thawed diced potatoes, and it didn't work out as well.  I could have been that I didn't spray the waffle iron, but I think it was more that the potatoes didn't mash and cook together the same way the tater did or that shredded hash browns would.  

Thaw frozen potatoes by sitting them out or in the microwave for a minute or two.  Get your waffle iron  hot.  Spray it with pan spray.  Spread your thawed potatoes over the waffle iron, but not too thick but plenty for good coverage.  Press the lid down tight so the square doohickies really mush together well.  My waffle iron beeps when it is done.  It usually takes about 5 minutes or so.

When they are done, they will be nice and crispy, no oily sogginess, and just perfect with a little salt (and I like ketchup).
My kids are so picky about their breakfasts in the mornings, and I truly feel like a short order cook.  Matthew likes eggs with ham and cheese at the moment; Sara doesn't like much of anything and seems to have an upset stomach in the mornings a lot.  She's been eating a piece of Nutella toast with a glass of milk.  Yesterday I tried this idea of the waffle iron potatoes, and guess what!  Both of them asked for it again!  In the picture you see here I used thawed out tater tots.  Next time, though, I'm going to try shredded hash browns.

They turn out just perfect, in my opinion.  I've made hash browns in the skillet a lot, but they always turn out soft and soggy from the oil.  I can never get that nice crisp outside layer like they do in the restaurants.  Now I succeeded!

Ok, for 4.5 oz of Great Value brand tater tots, the nutritional values are:  240 calories, 12g fat (3g polyunsaturated, 3g saturated and 6g monounsaturated), 0mg cholesterol, 495mg sodium, 615mg potassium, 30g carbs, 3g fiber, 3g protein.  6 Points Plus.

Enjoy your breakfast potatoes!  Over and out.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Tuna Noodle Casserole With Alternative to Using Condensed Soup

Looks are deceiving...It is PACKED with flavor!
Tonight I made a family favorite, Tuna Noodle Casserole.  I made it a little different this time, though.  I didn't use any Cream of Mushroom Soup or Milk in the base, which saves a ton on calories and stuff.  I used the new recipe I found for Cream of "Something" Soup Mix (click to go to the recipe) instead of canned soup.  The result was it had way more flavor than canned soup.  So much so, that from now on when I make it I am going to leave out the fried onions I always put in my tuna noodle (you know the kind in a can from Durkee?)  The Cream of "Something" Soup Mix has dried onions in it, and I think that would be plenty enough in the onion department.  No need to pack on more pounds when you don't need to!  So if you think you see some Durkee fried onions in the pic, you do.  But we are going to forget about those.
Also, I normally love peas in my tuna noodle.  But I don't add them in to the whole thing because not everyone in my family likes them.  I just heat some up and leave them on the side for those who want to add them in.  But tonight I didn't have any peas in my cupboard.  It was just fine without them, though.

My family always loved my "old" recipe for tuna noodle, but I always had leftovers that I threw out.  Tonight, every bit of it was eaten up. 

And the best change of all in this new recipe?  THERE IS NO BAKING!!!!  Nope, you cook the soup and the noodles and mix it all together and it's done!  A whole casserole in about 15 minutes.  You CANNOT beat that for a second!

Here's the easiest and most flavorful tuna noodle casserole you will ever have...

3 small cans tuna packed in water
1 C Cream of "Something" Soup Mix
3 3/4 C water
2 C shredded cheese.  (I used "pizza blend" that had a mixture of white and yellow cheese.  Use whatever flavor of shredded cheese you like the best.  The "pizza blend", though, I think is my favorite.)
1 16oz package of medium width egg noodles.  (For an even healthier version, use some whole wheat pasta noodles.)

1.  Get a large pot of water on to boil.  When it starts to boil, add noodles and set time according to the package directions.
2.  Put 1 C Cream of "Something" Soup Mix in a smaller pot with 3 3/4 C water and put over medium heat.  Stir occasionally while it comes up to a bubble and gets thick.
3.  Drain and flake the tuna in a large bowl.
4.  Measure out 2 C of shredded cheese and put in the bowl.
5.  When the noodles are done, drain them in a colander and then put them in the bowl.
6.  After it gets thick, dump the soup mixture into the bowl.
7.  Stir it all up and serve.

How incredibly easy is that?!?  The soup mix is pretty peppery, and there is plenty of salt from the bouillon, so you won't even need to add extra of those.

This recipe will serve 8 people with a 1 1/4 C serving.  The nutritional values are:
358 calories, 8.6g fat, 1g sat fat, 1g polyunsaturated fat, 2g monounsaturated fat, 98.8mg cholesterol, 869 mg sodium, 260mg potassium, 46.6g carbs, 2g fiber, 22.8g protein.  9 Points Plus.

This would also be great served with a nice crisp side salad.

I really hope you enjoy this recipe.  My family devoured it!
All the best,

Saturday, March 2, 2013

How to Make Cream of "Something" Mix and Green Bean Chicken Casserole

First of all, what do you think of the new look of my blog?  I got rid of that nasty hover bar on the side of the page.  Please check to make sure everything is working for me, and if it's not can you please let me know?  Thanks!

I first saw this mix for Cream of "Something" on Pinterest here.  Many of the recipes I make for my family start with a large can of condensed something soup, but they are always so high in calories and everything that I either don't make them anymore or I don't have any when I do and watch everyone else eat my yummy stuff.

I usually use about 2/3 of a large 26 oz can of Cream of Mushroom soup, then I add tons of milk to thin it out.  Both of those together add up to LOTS of calories!!!  The base for a dish I used to make would carry about 3 times the number of calories per serving as this new mix I found.  Oh!  Also, it is way cheaper to make this mix than it is to buy cans of soup, so it's very economical.

Here's how to make Cream of "Something" Soup Mix.  If you use the quantities I give you, it will just fill up a pint mason jar.  I taped the recipe to the jar so I wouldn't have to hunt for it when I run out.

2 c non-fat dried milk powder
1 1/2 c cornstarch
1/2 c bouillon (you can use any kind you want.  If you buy the cubes, you can pulverize them in the food processor or blender.  I used 1 jar of Wyler's chicken bouillon cubes.)
1/2 c dried minced onions
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp either parsley or thyme
2 tsp pepper

Mix it all together.  When you need it, to make a single serving you mix 1/3 c of the magic mix with 1 1/4 c of water.  Cook over a medium high heat until it thickens. 


When I tasted the soup all mixed up and cooked, it tasted way too peppery for me.  You can cut the amount of pepper in the recipe to 1 tsp if you want.  But once I got it in the final dish, it tasted perfect.  So it's your call.

Now here's a recipe to use it in (that's right...a double bonus recipe day. lol)...

Chicken and Green Bean Casserole

2/3 c Cream of "Something" Soup Mix
2 1/2 c water
4 cans green beans
24 oz chicken, cooked, cubed into bite sized pieces
6 oz fried onions (like French's)

1.  Preheat oven to 350F
2.  Mix water and soup mix together into a small pot and cook over medium heat until thickened.
3.  Drain green beans.
4.  Mix cooked soup, cooked chicken pieces, green beans and fried onions together in a bowl until it's well mixed.
5.  Pour into a casserole pan or a 9x13 cake pan that has been lightly sprayed with pan spray.
6.  Cook for about 30 minutes or until everything is heated through and soup is bubbly.

If it's a little too thick, you can always add a little bit of milk to thin it out a little.
This has always been a favorite in my house.  I've been making it for many, many years.  One day at the holidays I was thinking, why do we only have green bean casserole at Thanksgiving?  So I added chicken to the recipe and made it a regular dinner in our rotating menu.

When I made it with the Cream of "Something" Soup Mix, nobody hesitated for one second and ate it up like crazy.  They all loved it just as much.  Yes, it tasted a little bit different, but it was better in my opinion.  Because it's made with cornstarch, it is not a solid color like regular cream soup.  It is more translucent.  It's also not as thick, but that's just me taking out all those calories! :)

Here are the nutritional stats for 1/6 of casserole:  420 calories, 14g fat, 96mg cholesterol, 1643mg sodium, 292.7mg potassium, 27g carbs, 4.7g fiber, 39.5g protein.  9 Points Plus.

I hope your family enjoys this as much as mine does!!!


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Crescent Roll Veggie "Pizza"

Here is a recipe that is good for parties, as a snack or a light lunch.  The veggies are not cooked, so it is a cold pizza, if you want to call it that.  It is very tasty, whatever it is!

You will need:

1 refrigerated tube of crescent rolls
4 oz reduced fat cream cheese
2 good size cloves of garlic
2.5 oz each chopped broccoli and carrots
1 cup shredded cheese

You'll want the cream cheese to be room temperature for easier mixing and spreading, so take it out well in advance of making this recipe.  The crescent rolls, on the other hand, need to be nice and cold right out of the fridge so they don't stretch and lose their shape. 

You might want to spray your baking sheet very lightly with cooking spray.  I used a piece of parchment paper to make sure the rolls didn't stick.


1.  Preheat oven to 375F.
2.  Open the tube of crescent rolls and don't tear apart the triangles.  Pull them apart at the half way line.  Then unroll the rolls carefully so they lay flat on the pan.  Pinch together the seams.  Unroll the other half and lay it next to the first half and pinch those seams, too, so that it makes a rectangle of flat dough on the pan.
3.  Bake for about 12-13 minutes or until it starts to turn golden.
4.  While that is baking, prepare the garlic.  If you have a garlic press, you are so lucky!  (I want one.)  I don't have one, so I had to mince my garlic and then mash it with a fork on a plate.  You'll want to mash the garlic really well so the oils are released.  That way it will add tons of flavor.
5.  Mix the mashed garlic into the cream cheese until smooth and well incorporated.
6.  When the dough is cooked and cooled, spread the cream cheese very carefully (the top will flake off a bit) over the dough.
7.  Either chop the vegetables with a knife, or, for easier preparation, put them in a food processor (like my most favorite tool ever, the Ninja Express Chop.) and chop it up really good. 
8.  Sprinkle a layer each of the carrots and then the broccoli over the cream cheese spread.
9.  Top with shredded cheese.
10.  Cut into 8 pieces (or smaller if you are serving at a party or something.)

Nutritional stats:
181.6 calories, 10.6g fat, 6g sat fat, 1g polyunsaturated fat, 2.5g monounsaturated fat, 17.5mg cholesterol, 359mg sodium, 196mg potassium, 14.4g carbs, .5g fiber and 7.3g protein.  I'm not sure, but I think that the carrots and broccoli are "free" foods in WW, so I calculated the Points Plus at 5.

It would also taste really good with some chopped green onions mixed into the cream cheese with the garlic.  (!  I have to try that next time!)  Two pieces would be a nice lunch.  One piece is a good snack.

Hope you enjoy your veggie pizza!


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Updated to Show Points Plus and Sorry for the Reposts

Some of my old posts posted again, so sorry for the repeat information.  But guess what I did!   
I calculated my previous recipe posts to show their Points Plus values!!! 
I don't follow the Weight Watchers plan, and I don't really understand their Points Plus system.  But I know a lot of people do, so I thought it would be a good idea to do for those of you who follow Weight Watchers.

If you hover over the black bar on the right and find the "Labels" tab, you can search by Points Plus numbers and it should pull everything up with that label.  If it's not working, please let me know so I can take it up with blogger.


Lighter Version of Shepherd's Pie (with a Southwest twist)

I've never had Shepherd's Pie before.  Decided to give it a go when I found a recipe on dLife.  There are a lot of ingredients in this one, and it's more complicated than what I normally like to do, but I got Sara to help me through it step by step and we did a good job.  I got all of my ingredients out first.  I separated them into two groups:  one for the base and one for the topping.

Here's what you need for the base:
1 large onion (chopped)
3 medium cloves garlic (minced)
3 oz shredded carrots (or one average full size carrot)  I used my favorite kitchen tool, the Ninja Express Chop to make mine into tiny bits that were perfect for this.
6 oz mushrooms (chopped...used the Ninja for this too)
1 lb lean ground beef
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp flour
1 1/3 C low sodium, fat free beef broth
2 Tbsp tomato paste
Cooking spray

For the topping you will need:

1 lb russet potato (peeled and cut into chunks)
3 Tbsp low fat milk
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1 oz diced jalapenos.  (I used jarred jalapenos and chopped them up in the Ninja.  You can use fresh--just make sure to seed and de-rib it and don't touch your eyes before washing your hands.  Or, you can use a small can of diced jalapenos too.  I will use the hot canned jalapenos next time for ease and extra heat.)
1 Tbsp fresh cilantro (minced)
2 Tbsp green onions (chopped)
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 C shredded Monterey Jack cheese.

The ingredients list is a little overwhelming, I know, but if you just break it down step by step instead of looking at the whole big picture it's not too bad.

Prepare the base:

1.  In a large non stick skillet, saute onion, garlic, carrots and mushrooms over medium heat, stirring occasionally until vegetables are wilted (about 6 minutes)

2.  Add the ground beef and cook thoroughly until well browned.  Drain off any excess fat.
3.  Add oregano, thyme, cumin and pepper.
4.  Sprinkle flour over the beef and stir.
5.  Add beef broth and tomato paste.  Stir until well combined.

Prepare the dish:

6.  Line a 2 quart casserole dish (smaller around, but taller in height would probably work best) with aluminum foil so that it can completely encase the casserole.  I have no idea what the purpose of that is, but I did it anyways.  Lightly spray the inside of the foil with cooking spray.
7.  Transfer the beef to the prepared casserole dish.  Set aside.

Prepare the topping:

8.   Put the potatoes in boiling water and let them cook until they are fork tender.  Drain.  Put potatoes back in pot or in a bowl.

9.  Mash the potatoes, add milk so they get fluffy.  If 3 Tbsp is not enough, add a little more.
10.  Stir in salt (optional), jalapeno, cilantro, and green onions.
11.  Spoon potatoes over beef, careful not to push the potatoes down into the beef, but just spread on top.
12.  Sprinkle top with cheese and paprika.


13.  Close up the foil around the casserole.  Bake at 375F for 40 to 45 minutes, until golden and bubbly.

The original direction said that it may bubble over and a sheet of aluminum foil under the casserole is a good idea.  My casserole was completely closed in so I didn't have that problem, but it's something you may want to consider.

So, you see, if you break it down into 4 sections--base, topping, preparing the dish and baking--it goes pretty smoothly.  And I just put the ingredients away right after I added them so that my space was cleaned up and decluttered as I went along.

I think it would be better with more potatoes, but then it wouldn't be lighter, would it?  The taste was fabulous.  The seasonings were just right and the jalapenos and cilantro gave it just a little Southwest flare.  Every one, husband and meat-eating kids, loved it.  It reminded me of a cross between chili and beef stew.  It was a very interesting and different flavor for me, but in a good way.  Even though it was a little more involved to make, I'm sure I will make this again (just not an every week thing!).  Fortunately, my vegetarian child was not home that evening and so I didn't have to attempt to make a vegetarian version for her.  That would be a total pain in my butt to make 2 complete casseroles that are this involved.  Next time we have it, if she's home, she'll be getting Morningstar Farms BBQ Riblets or something like that.  Unless I'm in a completely manic mood that day and decide to tackle it, but I won't promise anything!

It's a little high in calories, but it's not beyond my limits.  Here are the stats (serves 4):  393 calories, 16g fat, 5.8g saturated fat, 1.2g polyunsaturated fat, 1.8g monounsaturated fat, 78.7mg cholesterol, 738mg potassium, 720mg potassium, 34g carbs, 3.9g fiber, and a whopping 28g protein. (10 Points Plus)

Pick a day when you're not in a rush and give this one a go.  Serve it with a nice little salad or some other vegetable on the side, and it will be a winner for sure.

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