Couscous Pilaf – 6 Smart Points

Couscous Pilaf

I love rice pilaf with seasonings and vegetables, but sometimes it’s nice to have a change. A quick and easy change for pilaf is to use couscous instead of rice. Couscous isn’t gluten free like rice, but it’s really easy to make and has a delicious flavor. It’s originally from North Africa. Couscous is made from durum wheat, and is really easy to make. Once your broth or water is boiling, it just takes 5 minutes to cook the couscous. This particular type of couscous is kind of like grains of sand, it’s tiny and has a mild, nutty flavor. If you want your dish to look a little different, use Israeli couscous. While Israeli couscous has a much larger size, it is similar in flavor and works just as well. This couscous pilaf is a great side dish. It’s so easy to make. It’s a perfect side dish to toss together while you’re waiting for the rest of the meal to finish cooking. [Read more…]

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Sandwich with Beet Hummus & Greens – 5 Smart Points

Sandwich with Beet Hummus

I’m not someone who loves sandwiches, but every once in a while, I get on a kick where I really like sandwiches and really want sandwiches. It’s nice to have some variety for sandwiches though. While I like turkey and swiss with tomatoes and lettuce, I thought I’d really change it up by trying a vegan sandwich that was completely different than my normal one. I think the keys were the hummus and the avocado. The beef hummus not only added a beautiful color to the sandwich, but it also served as the sandwich spread. The avocado added the right flavor and texture to the sandwich, as well as giving it a delicious moistness. While the serving size is only a half a sandwich, it’s easy to pair this with a side salad, a cup of soup or even just some fruit and nuts. It’s a perfect size to really hit the spot and satisfy your bread craving without going overboard. [Read more…]

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Country Potatoes Recipe – 5 Smart Points

Country Potatoes

These Country Potatoes make for a simple, minimalist side dish recipe that is fast and easy to cook, yet has the wonderfully distinct flavor of good old fashioned home cooking! A handful of ingredients are brought together in a perfect, hearty, comforting dish that pairs really well with steak, chicken or fish. In fact, they were so good that my family nearly gobbled them all up before I was able to snap a picture! I love that these potatoes cook up so quickly, and the flavor of all the vegetables aren’t overwhelmed with seasonings or sauces, allowing them to really shine. I’ve also served these as my take on breakfast potatoes a few times too, and they were a real treat alongside some turkey bacon and eggs. At just 5 Smart Points per serving, you’ll get a seriously satisfying side to your favorite main course, without going overboard.

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Mediterranean Salad – 3 Smart Points

Mediterranean Salad

I love salads and vinaigrettes. I recently found a really delicious herbed feta that I wanted to try in a light and colorful tossed salad. Since it was an herbed feta, I knew the salad would have to be light and not over powering. I wanted a dressing that could complement the salad and feta, but not compete with it or overpower it. I started with a balsamic vinaigrette but flavored the dressing with a little Italian seasoning. The Italian seasoning perfectly set the dressing off, it helped to lighten the rich flavor of the balsamic so that it complemented the salad. The baby lettuce is my absolute favorite greens for a salad. They are light and tender, and have more flavor than the regular head lettuce. You can also add any of your other favorite vegetables to this salad. Add chopped mushrooms, or some chopped summer squash for a little more color. Give this delicious Mediterranean inspired salad a try for a light and refreshing lunch on these beautiful spring days.
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Lentil Bolognese Recipe – 10 Smart Points

Lentil Bolognese

This thick and hearty vegetarian Lentil Bolognese is not only delicious, but incredibly satisfying. While it doesn’t taste the same as a traditional meat-based bolognese, the unique flavor is wonderful in itself. And with all the fiber and protein this dish delivers, it packs quite a nutritional punch. The sauce is definitely not lightweight…it’s rich and abundant, and does a great job of satisfying your hunger. It’s well worth the 10 Smart Points per serving, as you’ll be full for quite a while. Serve with a light salad or your favorite roasted veggies for a complete meal.

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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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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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