Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies – 3 Smart Points

chocolate-chip-peanut-butter-cookies

I have a recipe for quinoa almond butter blondies that is just wonderful. It’s a great one to make for people who have food intolerances to things like eggs, gluten and even dairy, since the recipe either has none (eggs and gluten) or is easily modified (applesauce instead of butter). One of the downsides of using quinoa flour is that it tends to be very expensive in the grocery store. However, with some regular, whole quinoa and a coffee grinder, you can make your own quinoa flour very easily. Since the brownies turned out really delicious, I thought I’d try a chocolate chip cookie version. Cookies work better for me, since I can have them frozen and just get out a couple (either in dough and then cook them up or already cooked and just thaw them) and they stay fresh and I don’t have to eat the whole batch. I wanted to make these gluten free, so I used a gluten free flour blend, but it’s easy to switch it back to regular wheat flour. One cup of gluten free is equal to one cup of all purpose or whole wheat flour. I also used dark chocolate chips, since I love the flavor of dark chocolate (and can use unsweetened ones), but you can switch them out for semi sweet or milk chocolate if you’d prefer. [Read more…]

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Strawberry Oatmeal Smoothie – 4 Smart Points

I’m trying to increase my protein intake, and for me, one of the easiest ways to do that is to add a protein shake to my day. I’ve got a couple of favorite store bought ones, but I wanted to try and get the same flavors and textures at home. One of the downsides of protein shakes is that if you don’t do it right, you end up with a grainy texture – which I dislike. I also tend to have to adjust the ingredients slightly, and then again, so I end up with enough smoothie for the next week. I had a bunch of strawberries to use up, and added a ripe banana as well so that I could have the extra vitamins before my walk. The oatmeal adds some fiber to help me stay full longer, as well as being heart healthy. Almond milk is always an alternative in smoothies, and works great, but I went with skim since it’s high in protein and calcium, but lower in fat. A little vanilla helps to bring all the flavors together. The result was a perfect smoothie. I used it for a snack both before and after my walk. Since I had some congestion recently, I was using some Emergen-C to get extra vitamins to try and prevent getting any more illnesses (that seem to be going around). I added my packet of Emergen-C to the second half of my smoothie and gave it a good shake. It added a little bit of fizz to the smoothie, which really seems to lighten the smoothie. The end result of that I liked it so well, I thought I’d add a little sparkling water or club soda into the second half of my smoothie, just to freshen it up. That’s easy to do, and if you make sure your sparkling water or club soda has no flavorings that add points, you don’t alter the points of your original smoothie. However, when adding the carbonation – be careful not to stir or shake too vigorously or you’ll end up with a little more cleaning than you wanted!
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Raspberry Cheesecake Mousse – 5 Smrt Points

raspberry-cheesecake-mousse

I love a sweet treat. They’re something that I frequently like to have around the house. It’s absolutely true that you shouldn’t overdo it, but I’m a firm believer in treating yourself. Cheesecake is one of those things that my husband and I both love (especially my husband). However, cheesecake isn’t something that’s great to have around the house. A tiny sliver of cheesecake is full of points, and really just tastes like more. I thought I’d try and find a much lighter version of a cheesecake. Something that is more fluffy, and healthier. I’ll admit, my whole motivation for this is being able to have a larger piece but not sacrificing more of my points for it. This recipe is perfect. Since it’s so light and fluffy, it’s more of a cheesecake mousse. It’s delicious. It’s so light that it’s not nearly as rich and decadent as regular cheesecake – but it’s so satisfying. I love the fluffy texture and I really feel like I actually get to have a treat. It’s enough that I’m satisfied when I’m done, but I don’t have to sacrifice extra points for it. What I found was the solution was just a little bit of gelatin. The gelatin helps it to have the structure that the mousse needs and helps it to hold up. But this also enabled me to use lighter ingredients and not nearly as much cream cheese. The result is a light and fluffy confection that is satisfying but not too rich or overwhelming. This one is definitely a keeper in our house. It’s delicious, easy to make, beautiful and I can make it in a large dish or individual serving containers to switch it up. [Read more…]

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Squash Soup – 5 Smart Points

I don’t know about you – but I’m ready for fall. Here in our little corner of the Midwest, the weather can’t make up it’s mind. It’ll be in the 50s on day and the upper 70s the rest of the week. Since fall and winter are two of my favorite seasons (actually the only one I don’t like is the really hot part of summer), I’m always eager to get them here a little quicker. One of the ways I can do that is with a little squash soup. I’m pretty picky about my squash soup. I’ve had good squash soup, and I’ve had horrible squash soup. I typically like my squash with butter and brown sugar (not the best option for me), so I’ve been learning how to do it other ways. I’ve learned with the right seasonings and a little sour cream, the squash soup is pretty wonderful. I had to process a lot of pumpkin last fall, and after getting incredibly frustrated trying to peel it, my mom suggested a wonderful trick – bake it! I was in the process of canning the pumpkin, so I didn’t want it to be mush before I put it in the jars, but it doesn’t need long. About 10-15 minutes (depending on the size of the pumpkin) at 350 degrees F. All I did was wash them, cut them in half and stick them in the oven. The skin peeled off (just like when you dunk peaches in hot water) and the seeds came out easily too. It’s the perfect way to make anything with pumpkin and squash when you need to peel it. When it comes to this soup, the easiest way to finish it off is with an immersion blender. However, since I don’t have one, I can assure you that a regular blender works just fine. [Read more…]

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Vegetable Chicken Soup – 4 Smart Points

vegetable-chicken-soup

As it starts to cool down this fall, I feel a lot more like making and eating soups. One of the reasons that I love soups is that they are so quick and easy to put together. Chili is one that always ends up in our crockpot, along with minestrone and a few others. I typically do a chicken noodle soup, but decided to leave the noodles out this time. I just combined chicken broth, chicken and vegetables into a healthy and delicious soup that was ready in less than 30 minutes. It’s a great way to use up leftover chicken, or the leftover turkey we’ll all have in a few weeks. This soup isn’t one of those super hearty, “stick to your ribs” kind of soups, but this is a lighter soup that is perfect with half a sandwich for lunch or a light dinner. Since it is lighter, I really like to have it with half a sandwich, since that’s perfect for a meal for me without being too much food all at once. One of the other nice things about this soup is that it’s easy to add in whatever vegetables you like or have on hand. I used peas, carrots, onion, kale and turnip. [Read more…]

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Chicken Tacos – 5 Smart Points

chicken-tacos

The last couple of weeks I’ve had a craving for tacos. Ground beef is finally coming down in price (a bit), but I still frequently turn to chicken. My in-laws raise chickens each year, then butcher them and dole them out among the family. As a result, we always have delicious chickens in the freezer, so we have leftover chicken from our Sunday dinners. It’s a great way to have easy, lean meat that’s ready to put into another recipe for the rest of the week. Chicken tacos is one that is very easy, delicious and is perfect for dinner. I also love the leftovers for lunch, they’re quick and easy and still delicious and healthy. One of the great things about tacos is that you can pile on all the extras you want, and if you do it right, you can still keep the points down by adding mostly veggies. It’s especially perfect for us this time of year, since we’re still finishing up our fresh salsa. [Read more…]

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Gluten Free Zucchini Texas Sheet Cake – 7 Smart Points

GF Zucchini Texas Sheet Cake

I don’t know about you, but our garden is winding down. I love to have the fresh garden vegetables all summer, but there comes a point when I get tired of it (particularly of the 1 billion cherry tomatoes when my husband doesn’t eat them). So, I’m always a little bit glad to see the garden slow down and not have to come up with any new recipes for cherry tomatoes, squash, zucchini, eggplant, and whatever else I might have growing like mad. But I wanted to give one last recipe a try. Actually, I wanted to create on last recipe. One of my favorite cakes is the Texas sheet cake. I love the flavor and texture of that cake, it’s rich but not too sweet and the frosting is just delicious. There are two problems with it – it’s dry when I make it gluten free, and it’s not exactly healthy. So, I thought I’d try a gluten free healthy makeover version. And it was definitely a success! Chocolate zucchini cakes are always really nice and moist, and applesauce is a great way to replace oil or butter in a cake (ONLY cakes and quick breads, not everything). So, I got to work. I found a very low sugar frosting recipe (not quite the same, but seriously amazing). I think adding the zucchini and the applesauce really makes a difference when it’s gluten free. Quite often, I find that if I’m not really careful, my gluten free cakes tend to turn out a little drier than I like. This one was perfect. And if you don’t need gluten free, just substitute a plain wheat flour, cup for cup. [Read more…]

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Crockpot Split Pea Soup – 2 Smart Points

split-pea-soup

I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure about split pea soup. It doesn’t sound very appealing and it definitely doesn’t look appealing. However, it’d been awhile since I’d done anything in the crockpot, so I thought I’d give it a try. I’ll admit, there are still more appealing looking meals out there. A large bowl of green soup isn’t top pretty. But the rich and delicious flavor of the soup more than makes up for it. I love how simple it was to put together. Just stick it all in the crockpot and turn it on. Once you’re ready to serve it, just use an immersion blender to puree it to your desired consistency. This is a great way to use up the ham bone from the Sunday dinner. What I really loved about this whole meal was how easy it was to to make! Everything went in the crockpot in the morning and got turned on. In the evening, all I had to do was puree it and decide what sides to serve with it. If you want to make it a little prettier, add a few pieces of chopped ham to the top of the bowl, or add a little sour cream to make it a little more creamy.

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Chicken Skewers – 5 Smart Points

chicken-skewers

Whenever I feel like I need a break from cooking for the evening and we don’t have leftovers – I ask my husband to grill something. Sometimes it’ll be something really simple like hamburgers or grilled pork chops, but other times (when I warn him early enough), he marinates something. This time the marinade was really simple – a fat free Italian dressing. We marinated the chicken for about 1 hour, then threaded it on the skewers with the veggies we wanted. We brushed a bit more dressing over the top and grilled it. It was perfect. It’s simple but adds a zesty flavor to the chicken skewers. It’s easy to add a bright and colorful salad, whipped up while the chicken is grilling. We added squash, mushrooms, tomatoes and little red onions to our skewers. We also tried grilled plantains, since my husband wanted to try them (we weren’t fans). Another great thing about these skewers is that I can heat up the leftover skewers and add them to couscous, quinoa or a whole grain pasta for lunch (or dinner). [Read more…]

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Honey Ginger Cod – 4 Smart Points

Honey Ginger Cod

I’ll freely admit that my favorite type of seafood or fish is salmon. I don’t mind tuna (and have definitely made some tuna noodle casseroles when I’m in a hurry), but most fish and seafood, I just don’t care for too much. I typically make it because my husband likes it. I have had some incredible beer battered fish and chips, but living in the Midwest, it’s hard to replicate that fresh caught fish flavor with what comes from the frozen section. As a result, I tend to shy away from things that I see as relatively “fishy” unless I can smother them in tartar sauce. However, I had some cod, so I thought I’d break from my usual oven baked fish and chips and go with something Asian inspired. I combined honey, soy sauce, lemon juice and some ginger. I wanted the fish well done, but not dry. I just broiled it for a few minutes until it was cooked through. It might take slightly longer based on how thick your fish is. I love the rich soy-ginger flavor. It was perfect to off-set the fishy flavor but wasn’t overpowering. And it was so simple! Just mix the marinade ingredients together, brush it on the fish, broil and you’re done. Serve it with a big side salad or some steamed vegetables and you’ve got a delicious meal that’s ready in less than 30 minutes. [Read more…]

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Mexican Quinoa – 8 Smart Points

mexican-quinoa

Even though not everyone in the house likes quinoa, I do. I like to make up a batch in my rice cooker and then make simple, nutritious and delicious lunches with it. It provides a nice change from salads on some days. However, I’m a huge fan of one pot meals. Anything that I can do that doesn’t have the kitchen covered in dishes is great (my husband is even more a fan, since he does the dishes when I cook!). This one is great. All those delicious Mexican flavors that I love – black beans, corn, onions, cumin, garlic and cilantro all wrapped up into one delicious dish. Since avocadoes were on sale recently, and we had a perfectly ripe one, I sliced up avocado to put on top after it was done cooking. My favorite part was how easy it was. I just put everything in a pan, covered it with a lid and waited. [Read more…]

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Quinoa Burgers

Quinoa Burgers

I don’t know about you, but the thought of tofu burgers, isn’t very appealing. Granted, I’m not a vegetarian or vegan (in fact, I love meat), however, I’m all about great tasting options that are packed with nutrients. That’s where these delicious quinoa and black bean burgers come in. I’ll admit, my husband isn’t a fan, but that’s because he doesn’t like quinoa. I love the flavor of these. It’s rich and nutty, and it’s obviously made with real foods. They’re so easy to make, just combine everything in a food process and then make your patties. They’re great to grill, pan fry, bake or broil. While they can be eaten plain, I found one of the best ways to eat them is served with a side of caprese salad. The juicy tomatoes, basil, a little fresh mozzerella and a dash of balsamic really brought the flavors out of these burgers. [Read more…]

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