Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Girl Scout Cookie Time! How Many Points?

Of course Girl Scout Cookie season lands right in the beginning of my weight loss journey. I love Girl Scout Cookies, so I budget for them so they'll fit into my daily points. I also budget for a glass of skim milk to have along with them. It helps me get my dairy for the day and that makes me feel a smidge better about my GS Cookie obsession.

This year's cookie variety lineup includes the usual offenders, plus the new Dulce De Leche cookies with caramel chips and a caramel drizzle - egads. In order to budget these once-a-year cookies into my day, I have had to calculate the points for each. I am surely not the only one fitting GS Cookies into my day, so here are the values. P.S. - A cup of skim milk is 2 points. :-)

Trefoils 4pts (5 cookies)
Dulce de Leche 5pts (3 cookies)
Do Si Do 3pts (2 cookies)
Sugar Free Chocolate Chip 4pts (3 cookies)
Lemon Chalet 4pts (3 cookies)
Tagalong 3pts (2 cookies)
Samoa 3pts (2 cookies)
Thin Mints 4pts (4 cookies)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Points-Friendly Soups

I like soup. In fact, I could eat soup year-round, even here in the Sonoran Desert. Studies show that broth-based soups can curb your hunger for very few calories. Pureeing some ingredients can give broth-based soups a creamy texture, without the added fat and calories of cream. The Spicy Black Bean soup below is creamy and satisfying, and only 3 points for 1-1/2 cups. The Zero-Point Asian Soup below is great for when you are craving something warm and comforting, but have no points left for the day.

Spicy Black Bean Soup - 3 points
Servings: 8

Cooking spray, 1 spray
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 (1
5 oz.) black beans, canned, undrained
1/2 teaspoon(s) red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 teaspoon(s) cumin powder
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can chicken broth, fat free, or vegetable broth
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can diced tomatoes, with green chiles, such as Rotel
1 (12 oz.) can yellow corn, drained

Coat bottom of large stockpot with cooking spray. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring frequently,un
til onions are soft but not brown - about 5 minutes.

Place one can of beans in blender; add sauteed onion mixture, red pepper flakes, and cumin. Cover
and blend on high until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour mixture back into stockpot.

***I just add the can of beans, red pepper flakes, and cumin to the pot with the onion mixture and blend until smooth with an immersion blender.***

Add second can of beans and the chicken broth to the stockpot and puree with immersion b
until smooth.

Stir third can of beans (DO NOT PUREE FIRST), tomatoes and green chilies, and corn into stockpot.
Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium and simmer for 20-25 minutes.
Yields about 1-1/2 cups of soup per serving.

0 Point Oriental Soup
Servings: 8

3 cans FF chicken broth (14.5 oz cans)
1 package frozen Oriental-style stir fry veggies (about 1 pound)
1 can (small flat can) Bamboo shoots
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce (or add another tablespoon soy)
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon garlic chili paste (or to taste)
juice of 1 large lemon

Bring chicken broth to a boil, add veggies and turn off heat.

Add remaining ingredients and stir to blend.

You can adjust the seasonings to taste, adding more or less soy, vinegar, etc. til you get the flavor and "heat" you want.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins - 2 WW Points

So, I am back on the Weight Watchers wagon and currently in my 5th week. It's going pretty well and there hasn't been much temptation - until today. I turned on the television this morning and it is "Chocolate Weekend" on Food Network. Now I've got a chocolate monkey on my back. Luckily, I had the few simple ingredients on hand to make 2-point Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins. My snack tonight was one of these muffins and a cup of skim milk. It hit the spot and took care of that chocolate monkey, too! Here's the recipe - if you could even call it that.

Chocolate Pumpkin 2-Point Muffins
makes 24

1 box Devil's Food cake mix
1 (15oz) can of pumpkin
1 cup of water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Either place paper cupcake liners into muffin tins or spray them with cooking spray.

Blend together all three ingredients, using either a whisk or an electric mixer. Evenly distribute batter in muffin tins.

Bake for 18-20 minutes. Muffins will be extremely moist.

*Can be made with any flavor of cake mix, so experiment to see what you like the best. My family likes spice, chocolate, and strawberry the best.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Saving Money By Going Meatless

Meatless entrees are favorites of my personal chef clients for a number of reasons, including special diets, personal preference, and religious requirements. Vegetarian entrees are also gaining popularity in the current economy as budget stretchers. The recipes below are for a few of the meatless entrees that my clients repeatedly request.

Meatless Stuffed Peppers
Serves 4

1 cup water

1/2 cup uncooked Arborio rice

2 green bell
peppers, halved and seeded
1 tablespoon olive oil

2 green onions, thinl
y sliced
1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon salt

1 pinch ground black pepper

1 tomato, diced

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Lightly grease a baking sheet. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Stir in the rice. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside. Place the peppers cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Roast 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until tender and skin starts to brown. While the peppers are roasting, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onions, basil, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper in oil for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato, and cook for 5 minutes. Spoon in the cooked rice, and stir until heated through. Remove from heat, mix in the feta cheese, and spoon the mixture into the pepper halves. Return to the oven for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Cheesy Eggplant Lasagna
Serves 6

2 medium eggplant peeled and cut into 1/4" thick, lengthwise slices

2 pinches garlic salt or to taste

8 ounces mushroom, fresh, sliced

1 medium garlic clov
e, minced
2 cups Marinara sauce, lowfat

6 ounces Mozzarella cheese, l
owfat or fat free - finely shredded

Preheat the broiler.
Mist a 13" x 9" glass baking dish with olive oil spray. Set aside. Lightly mist the eggplant with olive oil spray. Place on a medium nonstick baking sheet. Sprinkle both sides with garlic salt. Broil 6" from the heat source for 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until tender. Meanwhile, lightly mist a medium nonstick skillet with olive oil spray. Set over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until there is no liquid remaining in the pan and the mushrooms are starting to brown. Preheat the oven to 350. Place half of the eggplant in a single layer in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Top with half of the mushroom mixture, half of the marinara sauce, and half of the cheese. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, mushrooms, sauce, and cheese. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until hot and the cheese is bubbly. Remove and let stand for 10 minutes. Cut into 6 equal portions. Serve immediately.

Southwestern Vegetarian Bake
Serves 6

3/4 cup brown rice, uncooked

1 1/2 cups water

1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 (11 ounce) can mexicorn, drained
1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies

1 cup salsa

1 cup sour cream

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

1 (2 1/4 ounce) can black olives, sliced, drained

1 cup Mexican blend cheese, shredded

In a large saucepan, bring rice and water to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 35-40 minutes, until tender. In a bowl, combine beans, corn, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, cheddar, pepper and rice. Transfer to a 2 1/2 quart baking dish coated with nonstick spray. Sprinkle onions and olives over top. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 30 minutes. Sprinkle Mexican cheese over top. Bake 5-10 minutes longer, until cheese is melted. Let stand 10 minutes.