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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Grilled Chicken, Pear, and Candied Pecan Salad – 12 Smart Points

Grilled Chicken, Pear, and Candied Pecan Salad - 12 smart Points

When I want a salad that is insanely filling and satisfying, this Grilled Chicken, Pear, and Candied Pecan Salad is one of my favorites. I know that 12 Smart Points may seem like a lot, but for an entire meal, that is delicious, and will give me sweet, tangy, and salty all in one, it’s not too shabby of a deal. Nothing is sacrificed in this incredibly tasty dish, and it’s a breeze to prepare. The balsamic maple dressing is absolutely divine, and the variety of flavors and textures in the salad are to die for. There is something about the combination of the creamy, tangy goat cheese, with the sweet and tart cranberries, and the crunchy sweet and salty pecans that truly feels like a party in my mouth. You could make this dish a little lower in Points by cutting out the cranberries and using different nuts or cheese, but in my opinion, every Point is absolutely worth it! The restaurant version of this salad clocks in at around 23 Smart Points, so it really is a great bargain. If you are tired of basic salads, this Grilled Chicken, Pear, and Candied Pecan Salad is a must try!

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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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Chicken & Apple Sliders – 7 Smart Points

Chicken & Apple Sliders

I recently was in Costco and had a sample of a chicken and apple slider. It was delicious, so I set out to make a similar recipe that I could do at home. I’m not sure if these are exactly the same, but they are delicious all the same, so who cares? I like how easy these are to make. I can make them up ahead of time and freeze them. Then I can just cook up a couple of them for lunch or dinner. When I need a quick meal, they’re ready to go. All I have to do is broil them for a few minutes. I like to pair these with an Asian coleslaw with a copycat Applebee’s salad dressing and some sweet potato fries. It’s a delicious, simple and healthy meal that’s ready to go in less than 20 minutes. This is perfect for our busy weeknights, or when I simply don’t know what else to make! These sliders are definitely keepers in our house! [Read more…]

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Couscous with Pomegranates & Butternut – 7 Smart Points

Couscous with Butternut

Here is a seriously delicious combination of pomegranate, butternut and orange. It’s a simple and easy meal that can be tossed together in no time. I love the fact that I can make it up really quickly. Squash can be sliced in half, and baked for about 10 minutes. It’s easier to peel and cube then. It’s also easy to freeze it then and I can have it all year. Roasted in the oven with some olive oil, salt and pepper until it’s tender. It’s a great way to make squash without loading it up with butter and brown sugar. I highly recommend baking it for a few minutes first. I learned last fall with my pumpkins (when I was canning a whole bunch of them, about 30 or 40 quarts) that if you bake the pumpkin (or squash in this case) for about 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees, it looses the skin and seeds enough that they are easy to remove. Then just stick your squash in a ziploc bag and it’s ready to be baked when you need it. Since I don’t always have quinoa on hand, and it takes longer to cook, couscous is a great alternative to that. It doesn’t take long to cook, has a much more mild flavor and is less expensive. It’s a great combination with the crunchy and juicy pomegranate seeds. This is a bright, colorful and delicious salad that is simple to put together to complement your meal tonight. [Read more…]

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Strawberry Cake Roll – 7 Smart Points

Strawberry Cake Roll

Around the holidays last year I made a couple of Swiss cake rolls. I really enjoyed making the cake rolls. It turns out they’re not as difficult as I thought they were. The trick is to roll them while the cake is still warm, then they can be unrolled, filled and rerolled fairly easily. I used parchment paper to roll my cake and it worked perfectly. With some leftover fresh strawberries, I decided to try a strawberry cake roll – and it was fabulous. I started with my favorite frosting recipe – cool whip and low fat cream cheese. While I prefer to use real whipped cream, I can get almost the same flavor with cool whip, but without the fat! Then I added fresh chopped strawberries for my filling. I went the easy route and used a plain box mix for the cake. You can use any flavor you like – white, yellow, funfetti, chocolate – whatever you prefer or whatever you have on hand. The box mix makes this easy to make and really light and fluffy. It was fun, delicious and looks beautiful and elegant. Since my husband doesn’t like chocolate – it’s even better! It’s now one of my favorite non-chocolate desserts! [Read more…]

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Blueberry Frozen Yogurt – 4 Smart Points

Blueberry Frozen Yogurt

Last summer, some of my friends made some blueberry ice cream that was just amazing. It was made with whole milk and fresh blueberries, sweetened with honey, and was absolutely fabulous. This summer, I decided to try it, but ended up making frozen yogurt instead. I’m lactose intolerant, so I can only do a very small amount of ice cream before I end up regretting my decision. Starting with yogurt and making frozen yogurt seemed like a great alternative. And it was. I started with fat free Greek yogurt. It provided a delicious and creamy base for the dessert, but without the fat. I used plain yogurt since I wanted to add a bit of honey for flavor, and the vanilla was easy enough to add as well. I used my frozen yogurt and sorbet maker from Cuisinart, but you can use any ice cream maker you have. Alternatively, just stick the mixture in the freezer and you’ll end up with a very tasty dessert just as easily as you would have with an ice cream maker.

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Blueberry Breakfast Parfait – 10 Smart Points

Blueberry Breakfast Parfait

One of my favorite breakfasts is a parfait. I don’t always layer it nicely in a pretty glass bowl, but I love to combine fresh fruit, yogurt and granola. It’s quick and easy, always delicious and packed with nutrients. I like to have low fat yogurt on hand and a whole grain, low sugar granola as well so I can toss it together. It helps provide me with a great breakfast with minimal effort, so I get a great breakfast even when I’m too lazy to do much for breakfast. With this one, I sprinkled in my favorite granola, as well as some chia seeds and ground flaxseed. This gives me lots of fiber to start the day out with too. The protein and fiber help me to last longer and I don’t get the munchies as bad (my munchies are typically cravings for chips, candy, and other things like that). One way that I changed this parfait a little was to mash some fresh blueberries with a mini potato masher so that I had a layer (or two) or fruit sauce. It’s a great way to sweeten the low fat plain yogurt without adding any extra sugar to it.
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Strawberry Blender Muffins – 5 Smart Points

Strawberry Muffins

Fresh strawberry muffins are one of my favorites. About a year ago, my mother-in-law gave me a recipe for fresh strawberry muffins that I fell in love with. They were so tender, delicious and moist. The fresh strawberries made them really tasty. My only problem with them was the fact that they were a little involved to make. The way to get them to turn out perfectly involved sifting dry ingredients, creaming butter and sugar, and so on. I’m someone who likes to toss baking recipes together all in one bowl, mix and be done. So I went on the search for a simple and delicious replacement for my favorite strawberry muffins. I found these blender muffins that were just perfect. Originally, they had bananas in the recipe, so I tried it without first and just added the strawberries. They’re OK that way, but the bananas add the extra moistness that they really needed to be tasty. Everything, except the fresh strawberries, gets tossed in the blender (or food processor), pureed and then fold in the strawberries. They’re ready to go in just a few minutes, and bake in a few more minutes. Fresh out of the oven they are just amazing. I’m really enjoying my new strawberry muffin recipe, especially since if I use gluten free oats, they’re gluten free, and have no need for me to adjust flours. They’re easy, tender, moist and really delicious. They’re perfect for breakfast or snack – whether they’re fresh and warm or leftover.

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Strawberry Banana Oat Smoothie – 9 Smart Points

Strawberry Banana Oat Smoothie

One of the best things about June, in my opinion, is that there is so much produce that comes into season. It’s perfect for all sorts of delicious, seasonal and healthy food. Smoothies are something that I really enjoy. They’re a quick and easy breakfast or snack. Since I’m usually the only one to eat the smoothie, I’ll make up the whole recipe, then leave the other half of the smoothie in the fridge for a snack later on in the day, or breakfast for the next day. One thing I noticed with this wonderful strawberry banana smoothie is that it’s important to make sure you let the blender blend for quite a while. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to start with the oats, pulse them into a flour and then add the rest of the ingredients. The first time I tried it, I just tossed everything in together (like I always do for smoothies). But between the oats and the frozen strawberries, it wasn’t as delicious and creamy as I was expecting. The next time, I blended the oats first then added everything else and it worked much better. Give this one a try – with sweet and juicy strawberries, protein packed yogurt and heart healthy oats, you can’t go wrong. [Read more…]

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Fresh Blueberry Muffins – 6 Smart Points

Blueberry Muffin

In addition to some projects we were working on last weekend, my in-laws also brought us some really delicious, fresh, ripe blueberries. I love blueberries. Growing up, my grandparents lived on the coast of Washington. Grandma had the most amazing blueberry patch ever. It was about 6 feet by 10 feet and completely encased in a large chicken wire cage, to keep the birds out. The only downside was the bugs, because we could go in there and have as many blueberries as we could eat. Each summer, I try to get some fresh blueberries so that I can freeze them to add to sauces, muffins and all sorts of other things the rest of the year. A few blueberries have to be saved to be eaten fresh, and a few have to be used in a special recipe. This years special recipe was fresh blueberry muffins.

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Peach Dumplings – 5 Smart Points

Peach Dumplings

I’ll admit I’m kind of addicted to Pinterest. As someone who not only write recipes and meal plans for a living, but also sews, quilts and knits, I can spend hours looking at projects and ideas. When I saw a recipe for peach dumplings, I just had to try it. I ended up combining several recipes, since I wanted to use fresh peaches, not canned peaches. I love how easy these were to make and they were so delicious! They’re a cute little dessert that goes so well with ice cream (at least for the family and friends). But they go just as well with a dab of fat free cool whip or a little non fat Greek yogurt. If you’re looking for a little twist, these can also be made with wonton wrappers, and be just as cute and delicious. Just be sure to keep an eye on them, since they may not take as long to bake. If using wonton wrappers, you should also brush them with a beaten egg white so they turn that beautiful golden brown. But no matter what you use for the wrapper, these are definitely keepers for my family, they’re so simple and elegant but incredibly delicious. [Read more…]

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