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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Zucchini Pasta with Feta – 5 Smart Points

Zucchini Pasta with Feta

Vegetable pasta is all the rage right now and one of my favorites is zucchini. It’s easy to do and has such as mild flavor that it goes with just about anything. It’s also a great way to add color to my meal without adding lots of carbs from regular pasta. Plus, I get another serving of vegetables, which is something I’ll never complain about. I wanted a pasta dish that is light and refreshing and doesn’t take too much work. I really was looking for a quick and easy lunch meal, and this fit the bill perfectly. While it’s not necessary to cook the zucchini before, I like to cook it a little in the olive oil and garlic so that it’s tender. The lemon juice really brightens the flavor and makes the whole dish seem light and fresh. It’s simple and delicious – perfect for a quick and healthy meal. [Read more…]

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Vegan Quinoa Chili Recipe – 8 Smart Points

Vegan Quinoa Chili

With El Nino in effect, we’ve been getting a few chilly and rainy days here in SoCal, so I’ve been using that as an opportunity to whip up some tasty, hot soups and chilis. Since I am making it a goal to eat less meat, I’ve been really into making new Weight Watchers vegetarian recipes, and this Vegan Quinoa Chili was a hit! By simply substituting quinoa for the meat, I was able to put together a super easy chili that tastes just as hearty and delicious as a traditional, meat-based chili. The quinoa and beans provide a lot of protein and fiber, so this chili will definitely leave you feeling full and satisfied. Feel free to add your favorite fixin’s on top like cheese, sour cream, diced red onion, avocado…whatever your heart desires. Just make sure to add them into the total Smart Points value! This chili also reheats and freezes really well, so make sure to store some extra in the freezer for lunches or quick weeknight dinners. Enjoy!

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Lemon Pepper Vegetables – 1 Smart Point

Lemon Pepper Vegetables

One of my favorite ways to make vegetables is to steam or sauté them and then season them. I found a grill seasoning once that was really delicious, but it used dried rosemary and sometimes the twigs would get stuck in your teeth. I decided that since I loved the flavor, but not the rosemary, I would try my own seasoning. I found a perfect combination that I love to use when I want some steamed or sautéed vegetables, but want to add some extra flavor. One of the key ingredients is lemon pepper. It seems to add a little brightness to the flavor that really sets the vegetables off. I love to season steamed cauliflower and carrots this way. It’s a healthier way to add some flavor to them without adding cheese or butter and brown sugar. But this time I sautéed some mixed veggies and added my favorite spices. I loved the result. It added a delicious flavor to the vegetables and really spiced them up without adding extra calories. It’s quick and easy, and you can even mix up the spices ahead of time in a large batch to make it easier. [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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Asparagus Risotto – 7 Smart Points

Asparagus Risotto

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.
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Baked Ratatouille – 3 Smart Points

Baked Ratatouille

A couple of years ago, my sister convinced me to watch Ratatouille. It’s an adorable animated film about a little rat who is a fabulous chef. I loved it. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to make Ratatouille. Ratatouille is traditional French, a vegetable side dish stewed with herbs and spices. I thought I would try a baked version though. The baked version I tried is much less labor intensive than the traditional one, since you don’t have to watch it and stir it. Just season it, pop it in the oven and fix the rest of the meal. I love side dishes (and main dishes) like that. It gives me time to set the table and get caught up on the dishes. Not to mention that when you layer the vegetables into the pan like this, they turn out so beautifully, you can just serve it in the pan. If you’d like, add some red and green bell peppers to the vegetables. I really enjoyed this. I think next time I’ll try the traditional method of cooking it on the stove. But for now, a delicious, simple and elegant side dish that is a low in points. [Read more…]

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Asian Tossed Salad with Tofu – 7 Smart Points

Asian Salad With Tofu

There are two things about this recipe that I love – salad and Asian. This salad is filled with Asian flavors, from the garlic and sesame dressing to the seasoned tofu. Tofu was an acquired taste for me. Growing up, my mom would make it, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the texture, so it took a long time before I tried it again and realized that I actually like it. The key to really tasty tofu is to make sure it’s seasoned well. Typically, you can’t stir it much, or it will disintegrate, so just simmer it for a while (15 – 25 minutes) in some seasoned broth and you’ll have a seriously tasty meal when you’re done. It’s something you can add to Oriental soups (like a chicken noodle), Asian noodles (even just spaghetti with a peanut dressing and tofu) or serve it on top of rice. I used what I had on hand for vegetables, but feel free to change up the veggies to suit your personal tastes. I like to salad the best when the tofu is still warm, but not hot (or cold). I think it has the best flavor. It’s a simple salad that doesn’t take long to make, but it’s delicious and packed with fiber.
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Chickpea Puttanesca over Polenta – 6 Smart Points

Chickpea Puttanesca over Polenta

In an effort to eat less meat (the reason why is a whole looking other blog post for another time), I’ve been experimenting with more vegan and vegetarian Weight Watchers Recipes. A friend of mine cooked this for me one day, and it was so good, I knew I had to recreate it at home! The mild, soft polenta is topped with a tangy puttanesca sauce that’s to die for. Now, because you all know I love shortcuts, I used a prepared log of Trader Joe’s Organic Polenta. If you want to make your own from scratch, you absolutely could. I just often have my hands full while cooking dinner, so I try to save time wherever I can. But even with the pre-made polenta, this traditional Italian recipe is divine! You get a hint of the salty brine from the olives and capers, and the sweet and tangy tomato sauce balances it all out. It’s loaded with protein and fiber and is incredibly satisfying. A real bargain for just 6 Smart Points too! Enjoy.

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Cream of Broccoli Soup – 7 Smart Points

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Through some research on my part one of the things that I discovered, is that a lot of low fat cream of broccoli soup recipes have a potato in them. At first I wasn’t sure why, but I figured it made the soup a little richer and creamy. I decided to give it a try and see what I thought. Normally, I’d be pretty picky about my soup. I like my broccoli soup to be really cheesy and rich. This one was really delicious – and it’s so healthy! The avocado and potato really do add to the rich and creamy texture of the soup. It’s packed with broccoli and cauliflower, and just a little bit of cheese for flavor and richness. The result is a delicious soup that’s healthy and really easy to make. I think I’ll probably freeze a little for a quick meal later, but it’s so good, I’m not sure it’ll last that long!
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Pasta with Spinach Pesto – 7 Smart Points

Pasta with Spinach Pesto

Pesto is a delightful way to dress pasta that’s a little different than your typical red or white pasta sauce. It usually just requires a lot of fresh basil, pine nuts and olive oil. This is one that mixes that up a little bit. The spinach is mild enough, but the basil adds the classic “pesto” flavor. Not only that, spinach is a nutritional powerhouse. This is also one of my favorite types of recipes – quick and easy to put together – just stick everything in a food processor. If your pasta is ready too soon, just rinse in cold water (helps to minimize the sticking) and then leave it drained. When you’re ready to serve, just reheat the pasta by running under hot water. If you’ve got extra of the pesto, it should keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. The tomatoes add a beautiful pop of red to the dish and the flavor complements the pesto perfectly. [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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