Ciabatta – 4 Smart Points

Whole Grain Ciabatta

Oprah has said what everyone else is thinking – it’s possible to lose weight without giving up anything. One of the keys to loosing weight and keeping it off is to find a way to compromise. To find a way to enjoy your favorite foods while not going overboard. For many people I know, one of those things you want to keep enjoying is bread. Baked goods are something that just about everyone loves. Whether you’re try to lose weight, diabetic and counting carbs or gluten intolerant, there is something about a chewy and delicious piece of bread that can’t be replaced. One way to make bread healthier is to use whole wheat flour. Just make sure that the flour is finely ground. If your flour isn’t finely ground, your bread could be grainy. Whole wheat flour adds a richer texture and flavor to these traditional Italian rolls. Ciabatta are rustic Italian rolls that are chewy with a crispy crust. They are made with a starter, biga, that is fermented overnight. The dough is very wet, almost more like batter than dough. Letting the dough sit before kneading allows the flour to absorb the water so the dough is the right consistency. These rolls do take longer than normal to make, but the delicious texture and flavor definitely make it worth while to make a batch of these for a special occasion.
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Marinated Tomatoes – 4 Smart Points

Marinated Tomatoes

It’s finally spring! I don’t know about you, but with some of our recent weather, I feel like it’s easy to forget that. I thought that called for a recipe to remind me of the warmer weather. Something that is refreshing and fresh and delicious, something that makes me feel cooler in warm weather. These marinated tomatoes were just the thing. I used cherry tomatoes, since that’s what I had on hand, but you can use any type of tomatoes you want. If you like your salad to have a little more juice, definitely use a juice tomato, like a regular beef steak tomatoes or even Romas. One of the things I like about apple cider vinegar is that it doesn’t have quite the same bite as other vinegars. It almost seems a little sweet. It’s perfect for these tomatoes, it adds the kick they need to make your mouth water, but isn’t enough to make your eyes water too. I like to let mine sit on the counter while I’m making the rest of dinner to let the flavors blend together better, but if you like your tomatoes chilled, then refrigerate it overnight and you’ll have one delicious, colorful and refreshing side dish!
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Veggie Pilaf – 4 Smart Points

Veggie Pilaf

I tend to get stuck in a rut when it comes to veggies. So I recently combined a couple of my favorite veggie sides to try and get a fresh flavor from an old favorite. I posted about my favorite spice combination for vegetables. I decided to use the same seasoning for my favorite vegetables, but make it into a pilaf. I typically use what I have on hand for veggies for a rice pilaf. This time was no different. It’s a beautiful side dish that is so easy to put together. I have found that it’s easiest to use cooked rice, just like when you make fried rice. I try to plan ahead so I can have my rice cooked and ready to go. It works the best if I start my rice when I start the rest of my meal prep. That way, when the meal is almost ready to go on the table, I can mix the rice and sautéed veggies. If you’re looking to do something even more low carb, use cauliflower rice instead of regular rice. Either way, this is a light and delicious vegetable side dish. [Read more…]

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Broccoli and Cheddar Crustless Quiche – 4 Smart Points

Broccoli and Cheddar Crustless Quiche

Serve up this Broccoli and Cheddar Crustless Quiche at your next Sunday brunch, and it’s sure to become a family favorite! Most quiche recipes are meant to be healthy and light, but the addition of a high fat crust can often overshadow all the positive nutritional elements of the dish. By ditching the crust, we keep this quiche light and nutritious. The key is to make sure that the eggs are enhanced with delicious flavor to makeup for the lack of crust. I highly recommend using an extra sharp cheddar if you can find it, as it really kicks up the flavor! At just 4 Smart Points for 1/6th of the quiche, this dish is the perfect addition to any brunch, dinner, or potluck.

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Lemon Rosemary Baked Chicken Legs – 4 Smart Points

Lemon Rosemary Baked Chicken Legs

One of the things that I always look for on sale is chicken. I get it on sale and then freeze it until I come up with a delicious recipe that I want to use I for. This baked chicken is just the thing. I used chicken legs that still had bones and skin. I cooked them that way to help keep them moist and tender, but then removed the skin to eat them. Citrus goes so well with chicken, so the dressing is just perfect. A little lemon with a little tangy Dijon mustard and some garlic drizzled over the top. If you like a little more of the dressing flavor in your chicken, use skinless chicken and just bake it covered to keep it moist. I added a few vegetables, just to make it a little more appealing and have another serving of veggies for the meal. I also kept my rosemary whole, since I’m not a big fan of picking the twigs out of my food. That way, the flavor of the rosemary is added to the dish, but I can take it out before serving, just like bay leaves. [Read more…]

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Tossed Salad with Pears – 4 Smart Points

Tossed Salad with Pears

I am someone who isn’t a big fan of blue cheese. I can handle it if there isn’t too much of it and it isn’t too strong. But I thought I’d give this salad a try, and figured I could always pick the cheese out if I needed to. Turns out, I didn’t need to. I was surprised that the strong and sharp flavor of the blue cheese worked so well with the balsamic vinaigrette and the sweet pears. It turned out to be a delicious salad. While the recipe calls for fresh pears, canned pears (canned in juice, then drained), could be chopped and added just as easily. Dress the salad and sprinkle on the blue cheese just before serving, or the cheese can overpower the flavor of the dressing and the pears. The tender and mild baby lettuce leaves were perfect to balance out the rest of the flavors. However, if you’re someone who doesn’t care for blue cheese, or can’t have it, you can leave it out, or substitute a feta (or similar cheese) for it. [Read more…]

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Kale & Brussels Sprouts with Creamy Poppy seed Dressing – 4 Smart Points

Kale And Brussel Sprouts with Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing

Kale is one of the new “superfoods”. It’s packed with nutrients including vitamins A, K and C. It’s also a great source of fiber and iron. Brussels sprouts are also filled with vitamins and fiber. It’s a great side dish to combine the two. They really need something to spruce them up though. I thought I’d do a light poppy seed dressing to add some extra flavor. Sprinkle on a few almonds to add a little more crunch, or add some craisins if you want to add a little color and sweet. I really like the texture and flavor of the salad. One of the keys I’ve found to kale is making sure you take out the center spine, since it can be bitter and tough. The combination of kale and Brussels sprouts and poppy seed dressing is a light and delicious side dish. I really like to use it to spruce up any meal, to add color and crunch to my meal. And, while it’s not great leftover (it tends to get soggy), I’ve found it’s best if I make it first and let it sit in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so until we’re ready to eat. It gives it time to let the dressing soak in a bit and the flavor is even better. [Read more…]

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Tuna Salad Stuffed Tomatoes – 4 Smart Points

Tuna Salad Stuffed Tomatoes

I think that everybody has those favorite easy meals. The ones that you gravitate to when you’re home by yourself for the night. For my husband, one of those meals is a tuna salad sandwich. I thought I’d try and make a slightly more elegant version of a tuna salad sandwich with these tomatoes. It works great. The larger tomatoes, like beefsteak tomatoes, have lots of seeds and pulp on the inside that are easy to scoop out. Once the insides are removed, you can use it as a little bowl for just about anything. In my case, that was a rather delicious tuna salad. I lightened it up a bit by using fat free mayonnaise and non fat Greek yogurt, but didn’t sacrifice anything in the flavor. Be sure to use white or light tuna canned in water and then drain it before flaking it into the salad. I added the hardboiled egg because I had a couple on hand, but I’ve also tried it without, and it’s just as tasty. It’s a great way to really make a classic favorite a little more sophisticated. A keeper in our house! [Read more…]

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Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup – 4 Smart Points

Roasted Red Pepper Soup
I am someone who really enjoys soup in the winter. There’s something about a bowl of rich and delicious soup that is comforting and definitely helps to warm you up on a cold night. Well, today wasn’t actually cold (it was a January warm “snap”), but I still love roasted red pepper tomato soup. Plain tomato soup really isn’t my thing. I’m not a huge fan of the flavor, but roasted red peppers add something to the tomato soup to make it really delicious. I like to make up a huge batch of this and then freeze several quart bags of it, once it’s cooled down. It’s a great way to have a really fast, delicious and homemade dinner ready to go. I usually serve it with grilled cheese sandwiches, but you can just put a few croutons in the soup if you’re watching your carbs. I like the sour cream in this soup. It seems to add a little more creamy flavor without quite as much fat as some options. I typically use Daisy light sour cream, since it doesn’t have all the extra ingredients. You can skip the sour cream to keep the fat down, but it adds the creaminess that you really need to put this soup over the top. [Read more…]

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Quinoa Stuffed Mini Peppers – 4 Smart Points

Quinoa Stuffed Mini Peppers
Quinoa is one of those things that I just love. It’s gluten free and packed with nutrients, so I really like to mix up my normal routine and have it as the base of different dishes. These stuffed peppers are a fabulous little snack, side dish or appetizer. It’s a little more work because of all the chopping (especially all those little peppers), but it’s totally worth it. If I don’t already have quinoa made up, I’ll chop all of the veggies and do all the prep while the quinoa is cooking. While the recipe calls for cocktail tomatoes (also called Campari, they’re typically the “tomatoes on the vine” you find), you can use Roma tomatoes, instead. I wouldn’t recommend grape or cherry tomatoes, since they don’t chop up into small pieces as easily. Also, you have to remember that the mini peppers you’re using are tiny – so chop small. I ran into that problem, and had to do a little more chopping. You can also take a couple of the peppers and chop them into the quinoa mixture (like I did). These peppers are great to take to a potluck or have at a party. They’re small, tasty and easy to handle. I love these little peppers, they’re pretty and delicious! [Read more…]

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Easy Cauliflower Soup Recipe – 4 Smart Points

Easy Cauliflower Soup

With the chilly weather finally in full force here in SoCal (and by chilly, I mean 60 degrees), I’ve been ALL about the soups. I find that they are a great way to use up extra veggies before they go bad. So last week, when I found a head of cauliflower in my vegetable drawer that i had forgotten to roast as a side dish one evening, I decided to use it in a quick, easy, and very light Cauliflower Soup Recipe. There are many ways to make cauliflower soup….but this is one of the easiest and fastest. If you want to add an extra flavor boost, try roasting the cauliflower and garlic before adding to the pot! Sooooo good. At just 4 Smart Points, this simple soup makes a great side dish for a chilly day.

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Chocolate Chip Banana Bread – 4 Smart Points

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I’m not sure about everyone else’s house, but we almost always seem to have bananas that are getting overripe. As a result, I’m frequently making something that requires overripe bananas. Well, to be perfectly honest, I frequently make things like banana bread, but I also usually have a half a dozen bananas in the freezer. If your bananas are getting ripe, and you don’t have time to make something, just stick them in the freezer. Those bananas are perfect for making this banana bread. The number of bananas, along with the way that the liquid is reserved and then reduced from the bananas adds to the rich banana flavor and also the incredibly moist texture of this banana bread. I typically cover the banana bread with foil about half way through cooking. This helps the center cook without the top getting too brown. Really, this is a fabulous recipe. If you’re not a fan of chocolate (like my husband), just use walnuts instead of chocolate chips. I love this for breakfast and quick snacks – it’s so moist and delicious.

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