Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sausage & Peppers over Pasta

What I like most about the Weight Watchers Simply Filling program is that I don't have to weigh and measure or track points for foods that are on the Power Foods List.  When I cook meals that contain items that have a PointsPlus value, I usually make a smaller portion for myself in a separate pan while making Joe a larger portion in another pan.

I also cook our pasta separate.  While Joe is still eating regular white pasta, I've switched to whole grain varieties.  For Joe, I'll usually make a large pot of pasta to keep in the fridge for quick meals or lunches.  For me, pasta is a weakness and I just pile it onto my dish without thinking, so I weigh out a portion of dry pasta and only cook that single portion for myself to help keep me from over eating.  Normally, I eat two ounces of pasta, but for this meal I served three ounces.

Sausage & Peppers over Pasta
     Serves 1

  • Begin cooking pasta as directed on package, reserve 1/4 cup the cooking water before draining.
  • Cook peppers and onions over medium heat in 1/2 tsp. hot oil until they starts to get tender.
  • Stir in spinach and basil.  When it starts to wilt, add in the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, cook for about a minute longer then remove the veggies from the pan and set aside.   
  • Add the other 1/2 tsp. of olive oil to the pan and brown the sausage a bit.  
  • Add the veggies back to the pan and stir in the reserved cooking water from the pasta, stir well and cook for a minute longer.  
  • Serve over pasta.  
  • This is a delicious, low PointsPlus value meal.  (2 pts. for the sausage) 
  • While this is a hearty portion, you could probably split this into two servings if you are looking for a lighter meal or serving a salad on the side.  
  • I didn't use a lot of oil in this dish.  I hate using my "indulgence points" for oils, so I keep my daily oil at the 2 tsp. recommended healthy oils.  If you've already used your recommended oils or are following the PointsPlus program, be sure to calculate points for the oil.  
  • To eliminate points completely (when following Simply Filling) use water instead of oil to cook your vegetables.  Also, skip the sausage and use a lean meat (like chicken, turkey or pork) to keep it point free.  Of course, this dish would also be delicious meat-free!  

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Peachy Green Smoothie

I really cannot believe how much I am enjoying green smoothies!  I was skeptical about all the claims that you cannot taste the spinach!  I mean, bananas and spinach?  Who eats that together?!  Well, apparently I do!  Now!

The other day I was throwing together a few make-ahead smoothie kits for the freezer.  I ran out of frozen blueberries for my Blueberry Banana Green Smoothie.  I was sure I had another bag of frozen blueberries stuffed in the back of the freezer, but as I was digging around trying to find it, I spotted a bag of frozen peaches and decided to give them a try with the spinach.

I have to admit, I had a tough time getting past the color!  I like that the blueberries dominate the spinach in color in the Blueberry Banana Smoothie, but there was no dominating the green color of the spinach in this one!  When it was time to pour the thick, green smoothie into a glass, I decided to use one of Joe's superhero glasses..the Green Lantern.  I think I need to find a HULK glass for my green smoothies!

Peachy Green Smoothie

  • 1 frozen banana, in chunks
  • a couple handfuls of spinach, about a cup
  • 6 pineapple chunks, about 1-2 inches each
  • 8 peach slices 
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 cup plain fat free greek yogurt 
  • 1/4 cup water (not syrup) from canned peaches (optional) 
  • 2 packets Splenda or equivalent sweetener (optional) 
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 
  • 5-10 ice cubes (optional) 

  • Blend ingredients until thick and creamy.  
  • I like using canned peaches in my fruit salads.  I used no sugar added peaches that are packed in water.  I reserve the liquid for other recipes.  This was a great addition to this smoothie.  If you don't have it, you can omit it.  If more liquid is needed, increase the amount of milk or add just plain water.  
  • In the smoothie pictured above, I didn't add ice.  The mixture was still thick and creamy.
  • Also, I could have blended this just a bit longer as there were some small bits of spinach not fully blended.    
  • This makes a lot!  I usually drink the entire thing since I like getting all (most) of my fruit/veggie servings into this single meal, but could easily serve two people.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wednesday's Garden ~ Lilies

I'm not a gardener.  I cannot keep plants alive at all.  My small garden in front of my house was put in and is tended by my mom.  If she didn't take care of it, the garden bed would still be empty...or dead.

Looking at photos of plants seems to be the safest interaction for the blooms at the moment, and today (and most Wednesdays this summer) I'd like to share some photos from my cousin Wednesday's beautiful garden.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Roasted Acorn Squash

I just read that today is National Eat Your Vegetables Day, so today's recipe is appropriately timed!

Several months ago, I tried acorn squash for the first time after seeing Guy Fieri prepare it on one of his Food Network shows.  His recipe combined the acorn squash with lentils to create a warm lentil salad.  I love lentils, but opted to just prepare the squash as he directed in the first part of the recipe.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the roasted squash was similar in taste and texture to roasted potatoes, which is a great alternative for those trying to eliminate white potatoes from their diets.  I love white potatoes and NO, I am not trying to eliminate them from my diet.  Still, this acorn squash was delicious!

Roasted Acorn Squash 
     adapted from Warm Lentil and Acorn Squash Salad


  • 1 large acorn squash, halved and seeded 
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil 
  • 1 Tbs. fresh thyme
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
  • Leaving the skin on, cut acorn squash into 1 inch chunks. 
  • Toss with olive oil and fresh thyme. 
  • Season with salt and pepper.  
  • Spread squash out onto a baking sheet and pop into the oven.  
  • Roast until squash is fork tender.  
  • Serve 
  • Use whatever combination of spices that you normally use on your roasted potatoes.  You won't be able to tell the difference!  
  • I like to serve this side dish with Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

I've linked this recipe up at the following blog carnivals and linky parties: 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Blueberry Banana Green Smoothie

I tend to be a bit boring with my smoothies.  Making almost the same exact combination each time, maybe only making a single change here and there.  I've been wanting to try adding spinach to my smoothies for a while but honestly, I was too chicken!  I love fresh spinach in my salads or added to a pasta dish, but in my smoothie?  I don't think so!

Well, my opinion on that changed today after a friend of mine shared a Pin for a berry green smoothie that she tried.  She raved so much about how delicious it turned out, I just couldn't resist giving it a try myself!  It also helped that I had a container of blueberries and an open bag of spinach that needed using up!

I made a couple of changes based on the ingredients I had on-hand and was really pleased with the results.

Blueberry Banana Green Smoothie
          adapted from:  Berry Green Smoothie


  • 1 cup spinach 
  • 3/4 cup blueberries 
  • 1 frozen banana cut into chunks
  • 1/2 c. skim milk 
  • 4 Tbs. greek yogurt, plain/fat free 
  • 1 Tbs. oats, optional 
  • 1/2 Tbs. ground flaxseed, optional 
  • 1 packet Splenda, optional
  • 1 cup ice
  • Add all ingredients to blender pitcher and blend until smooth and creamy.  
  • I cut back on the oats in this as more oats would add PointPlus value to the smoothie.  Also, be sure to measure out the flaxseed if using as any more than the 1/2 Tbs. will also add PointPlus value.  

How To Train Your Dragon 2 Opens this weekend!

Looking for an action-packed weekend of fun for the whole family? Head to your local IMAX® Theater for the premiere of How to Train Your Dragon 2!

Starting this Friday, June 13th, the second chapter of DreamWorks Animation's beloved How to Train Your Dragon franchise is soaring to all IMAX theatres domestically in select engagements. The IMAX 3D release will be digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience®, creating a unique environment that will make audiences feel as though they are flying alongside heroic Viking Hiccup and his faithful dragon, Toothless.

Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, T.J. Miller, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Kristen Wiig reprise their respective voice roles, joined this time by Academy Award® winner Cate Blanchett, Djimon Honsou and Kit Harington.

Disclosure:  The information above has been provided by IMAX.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Marinated Veggie Salad

Since starting Weight Watchers a few weeks ago, I've been spending a lot of time focusing on my own food and Joe has been a good sport.  He's been a really good sport about it and for the most part he's been eating the same things that I prepare for myself, just adding cheese or non-WW-Friendly tortillas or sauces or whatever else to his portions.  

Veggies have been the main component to most of the meals I've been preparing lately and I've really been trying to find new ways to use them up.  When I saw a recipe for a tomato salad, I knew that was something that Joe would enjoy a lot but I also knew we had other vegetables that needed to be eaten, so I switched things up a bit.  Since this recipe contains fresh tomatoes and more oil than I allow myself each day, this salad was all for Joe.  He was pretty pleased with the result.  

Marinated Veggie Salad
     adapted from pocket change gourmet

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1 Tbs. Kosher Salt
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 3 mini sweet peppers, sliced into rings
  • 2 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 Tbs. Balsamic Vinegar 
  • 1 Tbs. fresh basil, torn or chopped
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme 
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • Slice cherry tomatoes in half and place in a bowl.  Sprinkle with salt.  Set aside for half an hour.  
  • Peel and slice a cucumber in half lengthwise.  Then cut each half into thin slices. Place into large bowl.
  • In a small amount of oil (or even a couple tablespoons of water), cook red onion, sweet peppers and garlic until tender.  Cool completely before combining with the cucumbers.    
  • In a small bowl or dressing cruet, combine the remaining ingredients to create the dressing.  Shake well.  
  • After the tomatoes and salt combined for a half an hour, add them to the other vegetables.  
  • Pour the dressing over the veggie mixture and toss to combine.  
  • Place into an airtight container and refrigerate overnight. 
  • This recipe is so versatile!  This can be served as a salad as it is or toss with some pasta to create a delicious pasta salad side dish.  Add a garden salad and some crusty bread and you have a complete meal!  
  • We don't use a lot of salt and although we cut the salt in half from the original recipe, this still seemed a bit too salty for our tastes.  So next time we will cut the salt back much more.  

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Berry Banana Split

This morning, I decided to get a little creative with my morning breakfast of fruit and yogurt.  I wanted to make it feel like it was an indulgent treat rather than a healthy option.

As I was reaching for a bowl to use for my yogurt, I spotted my corn cob dishes and decided to use it as a banana split boat!  I love when I can find an alternative for items in my kitchen.  In this case, I am making a healthy version of a banana split.  One that is both fitting for breakfast and the Weight Watchers Simply Filling Program that I am following.

All you need is a banana, berries of your choice, and some fat free yogurt!

Berry Banana Split

  • Banana
  • 1/4 cup grapes
  • 1/4 cup blueberries 
  • 1/4 cup plain fat free yogurt, plain fat free Greek yogurt, or sugar-free/fat free flavored yogurt
  • slice banana in half lengthwise, then slice into bite-sized pieces. 
  • Place sliced banana in dish. 
  • Cut grapes in half and place on top of the banana with the blueberries.  
  • Top with yogurt of your choice.  
  • Top with a Simply Filling friendly cereal in place of sprinkles you would traditionally find on a dessert banana split!  
  • Be sure your yogurt is a power food, otherwise be sure to track points for non-power food yogurts.  I used fat free vanilla yogurt for 1 point.  
  • Use whatever berries you like!  I just happened to have grapes and blueberries on hand this morning.  

PointsPlus Value:  1 point

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Southwest Scramble

The past few weeks I've been having a lot of fun creating new recipes that not only fit in with the Weight Watchers Simply Filling Plan, but that are also satisfying and delicious.  Today's recipe definitely fits the bill!

When I was a kid, I hated eggs.  Now, as an adult that is trying to change her eating habits, eggs have really been a lifesaver at meal time.  I've discovered that for me, there's a huge difference between a plain scrambled eggs and scrambled eggs loaded with vegetables!  So much much food!

Southwest Scramble 


  • 1/2 tsp. Olive Oil 
  • 3 mini peppers, sliced into rings
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/2 leftover sliced potato, cut into smaller pieces*
  • 1/4 c. black beans, rinsed & drained 
  • dash red pepper flakes 
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-2 Tbs. fat free milk
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. fat free salsa (optional)
  • Heat 1/2 tsp. oil in a small pan.  
  • To the hot oil, add the peppers and onions.  
  • When vegetables are near tender, add the sliced potatoes.  Cook until vegetables are desired done-ness (I don't like my peppers/onions to be too mushy).  
  • Season with red pepper flakes and black pepper, then add the black beans.  
  • In a bowl, beat the eggs and mix in the milk.  
  • Pour over the vegetable mixture, cooking and stirring until eggs are cooked through.  
  • Transfer to plate, top with fat free salsa if desired.  
  • The leftover potatoes have been cooked in oil previously and I took that into consideration when entering this into the recipe builder on the WW website.  
  • Top with light or fat free cheese or sour cream if desired.  Be sure to calculate/add the points if you do.  
  • While this is a single serving, you could easily divide this into two portions.  Serve along side a salad or serve as a wrap on a Weight Watchers-friendly tortilla or flatbread.  Again, be sure to calculate/add additional points where necessary.  
WW notes: 
  • 9 PointsPlus value for this single serving meal if following the PointsPlus program. 
  • If following the Simply Filling Program, this single serving meal is prepared with power foods, plus a portion of the daily recommended healthy oils.  Making this meal ZERO PointsPlus value.  
  • If you've already reached your daily recommended healthy oils on the plan, then be sure to track one PointsPlus value.  
  • As always, be sure to run recipes through the recipe builder to verify points values.  

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