Mandy's Marvelous Meals

Recipes, tips, tricks, and my journey into cooking fabulous food!

Zucchini Bread


Well for those of you who have been keeping up with my blog, you probably know that the zucchini from my garden has been quite plentiful so far. Like I mentioned in a post a while back, I planned to make zucchini bread. Unfortunately I didn’t get around to it until this weekend. I made a couple of loaves and gave them out to my neighbors along with a zucchini. I had so many large zucchini I had to get them out of the garden because they were starting to kill the other plants!

I love this zucchini bread recipe, which I originally found on www.allrecipes.com. I’ve tried others but this one is my favorite. It is super moist with just the right amount of sweetness. I have to say zucchini bread is my favorite thing to make from zucchini…of course that’s only because it is a baked good…and I love baked goods! 😉  The recipe makes 2 loaves, so you’ll have some to share if you feel like it! It also freezes well. Also, I forgot to take pictures of the bread before I wrapped it up for the neighbors, but you get the point!

 

Zucchini Bread

3 cups flour

1 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

2 cup sugar

2 cups uncooked zucchini, grated

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease two loaf pans and set aside.
  2. Combine the oil, eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl.  Beat on medium until well combined. Stir in the vanilla extract and the zucchini.
  3. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add this a little bit at a time to the wet ingredients, mixing on medium.
  4. Divide the batter in half and pour into two greased loaf pans.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 60-70 minutes or until baked through.

 

 

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Trying to Stay in the Groove


Wow, despite my best efforts I just haven’t been able to keep up with my blogging.  I’ve read quite a few blogs where this has happened…and the writer genuinely apologizes for not posting in so long and clearly it was simply that little thing  we call “Life” that got in the way.  For me, however, that is not the case (although I was really tempted to sit down and say that I just got busy and therefore could not blog…but a liar I am not!!!) I honestly just haven’t been feeling like it….despite my best efforts to plan out what delicious recipes or interesting tales I want to share I just don’t sit down and do it! So…today I am getting back into the groove.
Speaking of getting back in the groove, I’ve been pretty much staying on task with my Weight Watchers and eating pretty good (well except for those Curly Fries I inhaled last night!), but this has also been a challenge. Again, I have very good intentions and plan all of my meals, prepare all of my food in advance to make life easier, but still sometimes I just don’t feel like eating a salad…and so it is quite easy to bring on the french fries.
Anyway, earlier in the week Hubby took me to Whole Foods (stay tuned for my Whole Foods post) and all that fresh local produce and healthy stuff inspired me to make this delicious strawberry yogurt parfait for our dessert the other night.

 Hubby rated it a “5”!!! That’s right a “5”!!!! The best he could give me based on our little rating system. I was happy I made something so yummy, yet so easy and most importantly something healthy that we both enjoyed.  The Weight Watchers Points Plus value is 6, however you could replace the honey with artificial sweetener (such as Splenda) and you can use another kind of yogurt like Dannon Light & Fit Vanilla and it will help reduce the points plus value.  Also, I highly recommend you use “Raw Honey” if you can find it (Whole Foods carries it and a lot of Farmer’s Markets). It is sooooo much better than the regular honey you typically find in grocery stores. The first time I ever sampled it at a little store in Lancaster County I was totally hooked!! I guess like most foods…natural always tastes best.

Strawberry Yogurt Parfait (Makes 2 servings; 1 serving = 6 WW Points Plus)

1 cup plain non-fat Greek Yogurt

1 cup fresh strawberries, tops cut off and halved

1 tbsp. raw honey (more or less to taste)

1/4 cup granola with almonds (i.e. Bear Naked Fit Vanilla Almond Crunch)

  1.  puree strawberries and honey in a blender.

  2.  Add 1/2 cup yogurt to a serving dish. Top with half of the strawberry puree and 2 tbsp. of the granola.

  3. Serve and eat immediately.

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Whole Wheat Pancakes


Are you sick of breakfast posts from me yet???

This is my last one, at least for a while. I thought it would be good to do a “theme” this week. 🙂

Today’s post is for whole wheat pancakes. I love making these in advance and then freezing them in individual servings. Be sure to make them small enough to make 15 pancakes. You can then eat three pancakes for only 3 Weight Watchers Points Plus! They are filling and the sight of three pancakes on my plate (even though they are small) makes me feel like I am eating a whole lot. I like these just as is, but of course you can add fruit or chocolate chips.

Breakfast Foods Rule!!!

Whole Wheat Pancakes (Makes 5 servings; 1 serving = 3 pancakes; WW PointsPlus = 3)

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup almond milk (original, unsweetened)

2 tbsp. Splenda

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

¼ cup refrigerated egg substitute (i.e. Egg Beaters)

  1. In a medium bowl whisk the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, & salt), then add wet ingredients and mix well.
  2. Poor about ¼ cup pancake batter onto a pre-heated griddle or non-stick frying pan. When batter forms bubbles on top, carefully flip the pancakes and cook for another minute until cooked through and golden brown.
  3. Serve with fresh fruit or ¼ cup sugar free pancake syrup.
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Chocolate Chip Yogurt Waffles


So yesterday’s post was for some really good waffles made with Carbon’s Golden Malted Pancake & Waffle Flour. Today is the “Slimmed Down” version I have promised you all. This recipe is so tasty and filling! This makes one large Belgian waffle, so I eat half as a serving and it is definitely enough. If you have a smaller waffle maker this may make more than one waffle, so you’ll need to adjust your serving size accordingly.

The key ingredient in this recipe is to replace the egg and butter with nonfat Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is a great substitute for many things and is great in baking, as well as in pancakes and waffles (check out this substitution chart I came across on Pinterest). I do add just a teaspoon of olive oil, but this is completely optional. I think it gives it that little extra something and it doesn’t change the Weight Watchers Points Plus value. Also, you can omit the chocolate chips and have a plain waffle or add fruit to it instead.

If you don’t have Carbon’s you can probably substitute Bisquick or another pancake/waffle mix. When I don’t have any Carbon’s on hand, then I use this recipe for Almond Flour Yogurt Waffles as my next favorite waffle. It is also extremely delicious and it is low-carb and gluten free. This blog, All Day I Dream About Food, has a lot of good low-carb recipes, so I would definitely recommend checking it out. Another thing that I do that really comes in handy is that I make a big batch and then divide it into single servings and freeze (usually freeze in Ziploc freezer bags or my Foodsaver). That way, I can just grab one for breakfast whenever I want.

Which brings me to the “advice” part of this week’s “slimmed down” post…

This time around on my “diet” I make sure to eat something different for breakfast, lunch & dinner pretty much every day. From what I’ve read and now have experienced first hand, it is important to keep your body guessing what’s coming next varying the foods you eat and the amount of calories at each meal. This may be something you’ve heard before, which I had, but being the picky eater that I am…not to mention the food jags I experience from time to time, I never paid it much attention. For me, it became clear this time around because I had some comparison. This time around (using Weight Watchers) I have been consistently losing weight each week (except for this past week, but I already knew that was coming I’m just glad I didn’t gain!) and I have not been growing tired of eating the same thing or same types of foods. My comparison is from two years ago when I decided that Nutrisystem might be a good diet option for a lazy person like myself. The first month of food I ordered, I made sure to order all different foods and even try things that I normally wouldn’t eat (such as soup..ick!). Well, after a few weeks I tired of certain things pretty quickly (mainly because the food is just not that good) and when it would be time for me to place my next month’s order I would start ordering more and more of the same foods because I was having a hard time liking some of the other stuff. So, for example, the first month I lost 10 pounds right off the bat, but then the second month I started eating the same things for breakfast (usually muffins), lunch (chicken Caesar salad) and dinner (pizza) and barely lost anything (I think I lost about 2 pounds). My body got used to eating the same thing over and over not to mention that I just got fed up with the food and just quit even trying…and probably if I try really hard to remember I would end up just binging on food I wasn’t “supposed” to be eating in the first place. Although, at the time losing 15 pounds was a good amount for me (I only weighed 158 when I started that one…this time my starting weight was 174! Yikes!) it seemed ok that I only “dieted” for those 3 or 4 months. However, I never met my goal weight nor did I learn any type of good eating habits or how to change my lifestyle.

Even though I said early on when I started doing my “slimmed down” posts that my main focus right now was just getting the weight off and that later I’d worry about eating “healthier”, as much as I hate to admit it…I am learning healthy habits with Weight Watchers…just like the commercials said I would. My family & Hubby are probably shocked to hear me admit this…being the stubborn feisty woman I am…but it is true! I am much happier this time around and even when I am starving I usually reach for an apple or a fruit slushie rather than a candy bar…this may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but this is HUGE for me! I’ve never gotten to a point where I felt that I could just have an apple and be happy and fulfilled…in the past that apple represented being denied junk food and having to sacrifice.  (Who remembers “LA Weight Loss”? Of course I did it…I’ve tried EVERY diet…and it worked great, lost 25 pounds in 4 months…but I was miserable and would literally break down into tears because I was hungry…I just wanted a cupcake or something delicious! Anyway…) Now I never deny myself anything and I am able to only take a little bite of something that’s less than healthy (cheesecake anyone?) and if I’m still hungry fill up on fruits and veggies. I finally feel like maybe I can live like this for the rest of my life….and I’ll maintain a healthy weight, looking and feeling a lot better! I actually have “hope” that this will be the last time I have to lose an excessive amount of weight.

So, why do I share all of this with you?? Because I know there are probably some people out there who’ve felt like I have…that you’ll never be able to change that you’ll always have to do some sort of diet…that you will always have to be denied the things you love…but it’s not true…even the most stubborn junk-food addicted person can change…I am living proof!

Now, if I can just start exercising….. 😉

Baby steps!!

Chocolate Chip Yogurt Waffles (Makes 2 servings; 3 Weight Watchers PointsPlus per serving)

1/3 cup Carbon’s Golden Malted Pancake & Waffle Flour

¼ cup nonfat greek yogurt

¼ cup water

1 tsp. oil (optional)

1 tbsp. mini chocolate chips

  1. Combine the flour, yogurt, water and oil in a medium bowl and stir until well combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  2. Cook waffle in a waffle maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  3. Serve with a sprinkle of powdered sugar or 2 tbsp. sugar free pancake syrup.
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The Breakfast Madness Continues…Waffles!


So I thought I would stick with a “breakfast theme” for the remainder of my posts this week. I love breakfast food…I could eat it in the morning, for lunch, or for dinner. I especially love the Belgian-style waffles you get at diners and buffets. As a matter of fact, last Spring, Hubby and I took a ride to Atlantic City and ended up staying over at a hotel. We hit up their breakfast buffet and they had the waffle maker and waffle mix to make your own Belgian waffles….holy moly…these were THE best waffles ever!! I loved them so much that when we got home I did a little research to find out what kind of mix the hotel chain used and found out it was Carbon’s Golden Malted Pancake & Waffle Flour. I then immediately ordered three huge cans of it from Amazon and Hubby bought us a nice big waffle maker.

When I whipped up these waffles…I was happy to find out they tasted the same as I remembered. Although I’ve read numerous reviews talking about adding other ingredients to make it better…in my opinion, the best way to make them is to follow the recipe on the can. They come out light and fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside. They have such a great flavor…mmmmmm….sorry I was daydreaming about biting into them.

So anyway, if you are looking for a great restaurant-style waffle then I would highly recommend splurging on Carbon’s. It is a bit pricier than the $2 waffle mix you can find in the grocery store but it is well worth the extra few dollars. I’ve never seen it sold in stores, but if you do an internet search you can definitely find a bunch of sites that sell it. I went with Amazon because they had a pretty good deal and I liked the fact that you could get it in bulk (3 large cans) so you don’t have to order it every other week.  Carbon’s offers a large variety of its pancake and waffle flour including gluten-free, natural, and organic varieties, as well as a “just add water” version.

As for our waffle maker…this has been a good purchase as well. It makes great waffles and although it is a little bit on the bigger side it is not as large and bulky as some of the other waffle irons out there. I love that it flips over for even cooking and has a temperature control with a good range (0-10).

One last thought…like I said, the best way to use the Carbon’s flour is to make it following the recipe on the back of the can, but you can definitely get creative by adding all kinds of different things to the waffles, such as fruits (blueberries, apples, bananas, raspberries, etc.) or chocolate chips or nuts. I’ve tried pretty much all of these and they all tasted great.

Oh and don’t worry…..I have a “Slimmed Down” version of these waffles, which I’ll be sharing soon! So even if you are watching what you eat you don’t have to give up this awesome waffle mix! Be sure to check back for this lower fat option.

 

Carbon’s Golden Malted Waffles (Makes 3 small-medium waffles or 2 ½ large Belgian size waffles)

(Source: Carbon’s Golden Malted Pancake & Waffle Flour Canister)

1 cup Carbon’s Golden Malted Pancake & Waffle Flour

1 egg

5 oz. water

2 tbsp. melted butter (or 2 tbsp. vegetable oil)

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

2. Pour mixture into waffle maker and cook per manufacturer’s instructions.

 

 

 

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Bacon, Egg & Hash Brown Skillet Breakfast


My inspiration for this recipe comes from those yummy Jimmy Dean Breakfast Bowls. Hubby & I used to buy them now and then but of course they’re loaded with a ton of sodium and preservatives and who knows what else. Then one day it hit me…”why don’t I just make my own?”

It came out way more tasty (and these pics don’t do it justice…stupid iPhone!) and plus you can add pretty much whatever you want. Typically I use the Jimmy Dean precooked turkey sausage patties, but I like it with bacon as well. Since I had some leftover thick cut hickory smoked bacon from the farmer’s market I used that for Sunday’s brunch.

You can really get creative with this recipe by adding different veggies and different meats and even different cheeses and of course adjust the seasoning to your own preference. It is a great “base” recipe.

You’ll see in the recipe you are instructed to use a mandolin slicer with the julienne blade to cut the potatoes into hash brown pieces.

If you don’t have a mandolin slicer you can just cut the potatoes in cubes (this is what I used to do before I got my mandolin), but if you do I would recommend putting the potato cubes in a microwave safe bowl, filling with water and microwaving for at least 10-15 minutes to soften the potatoes up. If you don’t take the time to do this step, it will take forever for the potatoes to get done in the skillet and you’ll probably just end up burning the outside of the potato and they may not get tender at all…trust me I’ve learned from experience! 🙂 Serve this in a bowl as a meal or with pancakes, waffles or toast.

All this talk about breakfast foods has made me hungry! It may be a “BFD” kind of night…that is, “breakfast for dinner.”

Who doesn’t love BFD??

Bacon, Egg & Hash Brown Breakfast Skillet (Makes approx. 4 – ½ cup servings)

2 potatoes

3 slices thick cut bacon

3 eggs

¼ tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

1 tbsp. paprika

½ tsp. onion powder

2 tbsp. olive oil

½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

  1. Wash potatoes and cut them with a mandolin slicer using the julienne blade.
  2. Place the sliced potatoes into a bowl with a lid and add the salt, pepper, paprika, and onion powder. Place the lid on the bowl and shake it up to cover the potatoes with the seasonings. Set aside.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Cook the bacon until crisp. Remove from pan and place on paper towels to drain grease.
  4. To the skillet, add the eggs and scramble, stirring constantly with a rubber scraper. Once eggs are completely scrambled and no liquid remains remove from pan and set aside.
  5. Using the same skillet, heat the olive oil. Add potatoes and cook covered for about 4 minutes. Carefully “flip” the hash browns over and cook (covered) on the other side for another 3-4 minutes or until crisp tender. (*Tip: Resist the urge to “stir” the potatoes frequently. This will cause them to be soggy and they will not get crispy like hash browns.)
  6. Remove the lid and make sure the potatoes are tender and browned. If they are done, add the egg, stirring to break up the egg.
  7. Crumble or cut the bacon into small pieces and add to skillet and stir to mix all the ingredients up.
  8. Finally, add the cheese and allow to melt, stirring occasionally. Once cheese has melted and is well-combined remove from heat and serve.

 

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Warm Weather Means Cool Treats!


As the weather warms up, I have been getting back into eating Smoothies for breakfast, as a healthy snack or sometimes even as dessert. There are a million and one different smoothie recipes out there but today I’ll be sharing my personal favorites.

(BTW, I haven’t snapped any photos of my smoothies so this was one I found on a free photo site.)

This past week has been a struggle….and I’m not sure why, but I have been feeling so hungry. I did drop 2 more pounds, and really didn’t go off the wagon (stayed in my WW “points” budget despite eating fast food and indulging in some “Faturday” treats! Thanks WW!). I feel like I am eating a lot, but still I am hungry!  I’ve increased the amount of veggies and fruits I eat (since they are 0 points and packed with fiber) but it just doesn’t seem to be helping.  I know all the nutritional information out there says that fiber-rich foods will fill you up but this just does not happen for me!

Which brings me to protein powder…

I do sometimes add vanilla whey protein powder to my smoothies, especially if I make them for breakfast so as to help keep me fuller. I’ve read a bit here and there about protein powders in regards to the average person (not athletes or body builders) and there is a lot of mixed information, including some studies that say protein powders do not work and that you are basically just consuming chemicals….hmmmm…interesting.

So based on what I’ve come across I choose to believe:

  • They can be harmful if over used or not used properly.
  • They should not be used for weight loss (i.e. don’t replace all or most meals with protein shakes) and they should only be used if you are not getting enough protein in your diet.
  • They do make you feel fuller.
  • As long as I am not ingesting more grams of protein than I should be in a day, then I will use them every now and then.

And as I’ve mentioned before, when I begin the “healthy phase” of my transformation (that is when I am finished with my diet, have dropped all the pounds I need to, and work towards a healthier lifestyle), I will try to find an alternative, as I do not think they really fit into the category of what is genuinely “healthy”.

Speaking of alternatives….

I’ve started to switch over to Greek yogurt which has much more protein than regular yogurt. At first I really didn’t like it, but it has grown on me and I do like to use it for baking (it’s awesome in pancakes & waffles!) and now in my smoothies. So if you use Greek yogurt you definitely would not need the protein powder because you’ll be getting a large amount of protein from it. For the recipes in this post that use yogurt, my personal favorite is Dannon Light N’ Fit Vanilla, but you can use whatever you like.

One last note about using a blender…the most important thing to do when using any type of blender is to follow the instructions that came with your blender. They should include instructions on how to crush ice, as well as what order to put the ingredients in. For example, in the case of smoothies or things with ice, you typically would put in the liquid ingredients first and building up to the ice last. Until I realized this, I could never get my stuff to blend well….even with a decent blender.  After getting fed up I turned to the instruction manual and learned that I had been doing it all wrong.

I hope you enjoy these recipes. I’d love to hear what your favorite smoothies are and please feel free to share your own thoughts on making these delicious treats!

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie (WW pointsplus: Without protein powder = 4; With protein powder = 7)

1 cup light chocolate soy milk

1 cup frozen strawberries

1 cup ice

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)

Splenda, to taste (optional)

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until ice is crushed and it reaches smoothie consistency.

 

Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie (WW pointsplus: with protein powder = 7; Without protein powder = 4)

½ cup fat free skim milk or almond milk

1/3 cup fat free cottage cheese

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tbsp. splenda

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)

1 cup frozen strawberries

2 tbsp. fat free whipped cream (optional)

  1. Add cottage cheese to blender and blend for about 30 seconds until smooth.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and blend until desired consistency is reached.
  3. Top with whipped cream.

 

Strawberry Banana Smoothie (WW pointsplus = 5)

½ banana, sliced, frozen

½-3/4 cup frozen strawberries

½ cup fat free vanilla yogurt

½ cup fat free skim milk or almond milk

2 tbsp. splenda

 

  1. Add all ingredients to blender and run until well combined and smooth.

 

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie (WW pointsplus: with protein powder = 9; without protein powder = 5)

1 cup fat free skim milk or almond milk

2 tbsp. PB2 or  reduced fat peanut butter

1 tbsp. Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa

2 tbsp. splenda

1 cup ice

1 scoop protein powder (optional)

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and run until smooth.

 

Tropical Fruit Smoothie (WW pointsplus =  5)

1/2 cup non-fat yogurt

1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice

1 cup frozen mixed fruit (like the kind by Dole)

1 cup ice

1-2 tbsp. splenda (optional)

  1.  Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

 

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