With 2016 almost at an end, it’s time to get back on track and detox from all the holiday goodies. Gyros have always been one of my favorite guilty indulgences, and today I’m sharing my favorite healthy makeover of a traditional Greek gyro. First of all, I subbed out the fatty, high cholesterol lamb meat with tender chicken breast marinated in an amazing blend of Greek spices, lemon juice and yogurt which helps to tenderize the breasts while giving them fantastic flavor. Also, by making my homemade tzatziki sauce, I was able to lower the calories while also bringing in some more incredible tastes. Trust me when I tell you that after making your own tzatziki sauce, you will never want to buy the pre-made store bought kind again. Finally, everything is served on top of a whole wheat pita, and topped with fresh red onion and tomato slices. It is so good. SO GOOD! And at just 7 Smart Points each, these healthy chicken gyros make a great Weight Watchers lunch idea.
Chili has always been one of my favorite cold weather foods – there’s just something so comforting and soul warming about it. And my Chipotle Chicken Chili Recipe has an extra boost of flavor heat to warm you up! Made with crumbled ground chicken and Italian sausage, this chili is packed with protein and is incredibly satisfying. I’ve made this recipe many times, and it’s always well received. It can feed large crowds and is relatively inexpensive to make. And at just 7 Smart Points per serving, this Weight Watchers chili recipe tastes like a splurge, but is absolutely guilt free. If I have the time, I will let this cook for 3-5 hours….because the longer it cooks, the tastier it is. I also love serving it with a dollop of sour cream or shredded cheddar cheese, and some fresh chopped red onions. Soooooo yummy. Need a dish for game day or Super Bowl Sunday? This Chipotle Chicken Chili is it! Enjoy.
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…]
I love pasta. It’s one of my many weaknesses. I think I enjoy it so much because it’s something that I can do quickly, it tastes great and I’ve found some really good gluten free noodles that taste wonderful. I love to make garlic noodles. I used to just do noodles with my favorite seasonings. I’ve been adding a variety of vegetables. With the fresh garden vegetables right now, this is just perfect to add your favorite vegetables to whip up a quick and easy pasta dish. I like my noodles with just a little bit of spice, so I use sweet chili sauce. However, if you like a little more spice, use Sriracha instead of sweet chili sauce. [Read more…]
This year for New Year’s day dinner, my in-laws had an Italian theme. One of the recipes we ended up with was a lasagna made with a homemade Ragu. I fell in love with it. The flavor of the Ragu was so delicious. It was rich, but not overpowering and wasn’t tomato based. Most of my pasta sauces are tomato or cream based, so this one was a breath of fresh air. I got the recipe and have made it several times since then. It makes a lot, so I tend to freeze part of it or I end up with too much sauce to use before it went bad. The only downside of this recipe for me, is that you need to simmer it for a couple of hours. I don’t care for wine, so I simmered mine for at least 2 hours to make sure no wine flavor remained (don’t worry, all the alcohol has burned off by then). I’ve also found that the wine adds a depth to the flavor that the Ragu is really lacking without the wine. So, just plan ahead and make this Ragu on Saturday or Sunday (or any day you have the time to do the prep) and then store it until you use it later in the week. If you can’t find the pancetta, just use bacon as a substitute. This is perfect for spaghetti (or any other kind of pasta), or you can use it as your sauce for a lasagna. Any leftovers you won’t use within a week, just put it in a bag and freeze it for the next time. It’s rich, but not overpowering, and incredibly delicious. It’s my all-time favorite pasta sauce, and I love that I get to toss the veggies in the food processor to make the prep really easy. [Read more…]
Sometimes, I just want a big, heaping plate of spaghetti with a rich, flavorful meat sauce. But the Smart Points in a typical bolognese could end up adding up to a whole days worth of Points! So in order to satisfy my craving without ruing my diet, I created this simple, no-frills Spaghetti Squash and Turkey Bolognese Recipe. I just sub out the carb heavy spaghetti noodles for the light, nutritious, and 0 Smart Points oven-roasted spaghetti squash. Topped with a decadent, lightened up turkey bolognese sauce, this recipe is one seriously satisfying meal! When I have a few extra Points to spare, I’ll also add some grated Parmesan on top – soooooo good! Serve with your favorite salad or roasted veggies, and even a slice of garlic bread, for a meal that is sure to fill you up.
This banana muffin is probably my all time favorite banana recipe. It is moist, delicious and very easy to put together. I’ve made it about a dozen times and it has yet to fail me. The original recipe was for a banana bread, but I rather dislike making banana breads. They take so long to bake and a piece of banana bread isn’t nearly as convenient as a muffin. I almost always make my quick breads into muffins. In fact, I love to make these as mini muffins. The mini muffins are just perfect for a couple of bites of a snack without going overboard. As much as I love mini muffins, I left this one as regular sized muffins for this recipe. These regular muffins are great for me as a treat after a walk or bike ride, or as a mid afternoon snack with some fruit or veggies. I always make mine gluten free with a baking mix, but you can use regular all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour just as easily with no substitutions. Use up your leftover bananas with these delicious muffins. The moist, rich chocolate muffin won’t disappoint.
One of the best parts of pasta in my opinion is the sauce. There is nothing like homemade pasta sauce, whether it’s a cream sauce or a red sauce. The flavors of homemade sauce are so much more vibrant and rich than canned pasta sauce. I’ve found that it’s worth my while to make my pasta sauce. Lasagna is one of those pastas that is truly delicious when topped with a homemade pasta sauce. This simple Bolognese sauce is just what it needs to really be delicious. I decided to try a lasagna without cheese this time, so I needed the sauce to pick up any slack from the missing cheese. And this sauce did just that. It was really quite easy to prepare and the end result was something that was really rich and the flavors were vibrant. Since it’s homemade, you can tweak the flavors to fit your individual taste preference. This lasagna with Bolognese sauce is a little more work, but the flavor in the end makes it worth every minute. [Read more…]
Who doesn’t love a beautiful salad? Salads are a great meal. They are light and refreshing and since spring is in full swing, it’s the perfect meal to feel like you’re taking full advantage of the warm weather. This salad is delicious. The mixed baby greens provide a delicious base for this salad. Add in frozen or fresh green peas, some onion and a little mint and you have a salad packed with flavor and nutrients. With plenty of fiber, as well as iron, baby greens are a great way to feel full for much longer. I decided to give this salad a refreshing twist with the dressing as well. Cilantro and lime go together so well that they make a perfect dressing. I put everything in the blender to make it smooth and easy. If you’re one of those people that doesn’t like cilantro, you can omit the cilantro and olive oil, and use half an avocado instead. The flavor will definitely be different, but just as delicious. For me, this is a great way to make something new and fresh with leftovers. Leftover pork (roast or chops) shredded work perfectly for this. [Read more…]
Lately, I’ve been a bit behind with my meal planning and food organizing. Things have been really chaotic for my family these last few months, and sometimes, life just gets in the way. Unfortunately, this had let to a lot of eating out, less cooking at home, and poor food choices. However, during this tumultuous time, the few times that I have managed to cook a healthy meal, I’ve been lucky enough to have a few quick and easy recipes up my sleeve to rely on. Meals that I can prepare on the fly and require just a handful of ingredients. This Honey Soy Chicken Drumsticks is a hit with the family EVERY TIME. I’m not kidding! It’s incredibly flavorful and tender, and really helps to satisfy everyone’s sweet and salty cravings. Serve over a bed of fluffy, steamed brown rice and with a side of roasted veggies, and you’ve got a delicious meal in a pinch. Enjoy!
A few years ago, my aunt sent me a steamer basket. It’s a beautiful wooden steamer basket with several layers, so you can steam veggies, leftover rice and meat all at once. I decided it was finally time to break it out to try these steamed chicken buns. These delicious little buns are very similar to pot stickers, but the outside is slightly different. Pot stickers are usually made with wonton wrappers, but these buns are made with a homemade yeast dough. I wanted to make these a little healthier than the original recipe, so I used half whole wheat flour. I’ll admit, since this is a yeast dough, it’s a little more involved than I would typically do for an appetizer type recipe, but it was definitely worth it. The outside is tender and savory, and the filling is delicious. For the filling, I started with ginger and ground chicken (or turkey). Add the bamboo shoots and shallots adds to the savory flavor for the filling. Then the filling is rounded out with the delicious seasonings that make the whole bun just delicious. While these are supposed to be an appetizer, if you’ve got a little extra time to make the dough, these are delicious for appetizers or even for a main dish. Serve them with some steamed, fresh or stir fried vegetables to make this a complete meal. You can also make a little extra of the seasoning sauce to use it for a dipping sauce. These are absolutely delicious – well worth waiting for the dough to rise! [Read more…]
I love rice. I love it in all it’s forms, well, except instant. For me, it doesn’t matter if it’s white or brown, wild, in a dish, by itself, I love it all. One of the things I learned to cook after getting married (getting married made me very adventurous in the kitchen, trying new dishes), was risotto. It turns out it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Typically, I use the cheater, easy version of risotto. I just stick all the cold stock and wine in at once and stir it occasionally. It absolutely works that way, but it’s better if you do it properly – a ladle of broth at a time and stir it. It helps the rice to become creamier (without adding unhealthy amounts of cheese). However, if you’re in a hurry, or lazy, or have other things that you need to do, you can just put all the broth in at once and you’ll still get a delicious risotto. Another key to this dish is tender young asparagus. Look for the smallest asparagus shoots you can find – they’re more tender and much more delicious. I bend each shoot (holding the ends) and let it snap. Typically, that breaks off the end that is tough and hard, leaving me with tender asparagus shoots. Another thing that is important in this one is the shallots. I’m someone who thought that there isn’t much difference between an onion and a shallot. Let me tell you – there is. Shallots are lighter and sweeter than onions. Sautéed with a little butter and some mushrooms and a dash of thyme, they are delicious on top of chicken or beef. Shallots make this a lighter risotto that is a rich and delicious flavor. Onions will have a much more powerful and potent flavor that will change the whole flavor of the dish. Give this one a try – you’ll love the creamy risotto with the sweet and savory shallots and the tender asparagus.