Mandy's Marvelous Meals

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

Happy Belated New Year!


I hope everyone is having a great 2015 so far….and I hope you’re all sticking to your resolutions. I haven’t made resolutions this year, but rather have extended my goals from 2014 (all of which are going quite well!) and added a few new one’s here and there. One of my main goals is to get back to cooking and blogging! Grad school will be over in just four months so there are no more excuses. I’ve had some posts written but never got around to posting so you can look forward to those in the next few weeks. The end of 2014 was full of positive changes for Hubs and me. We are regularly exercising and eating clean. Most importantly we are feeling great, better than ever before. You can look forward to some delicious recipes made with real food.

small-steps

So to kick off the return of my blog here is a quick recipe to make zucchini & carrot noodles with red sauce. I use this product to make the noodles but there are all kinds of contraptions on  the market that you can pick up. You can also just use a julienne slicer if you don’t want to buy another kitchen gadget. If you can, I recommend using organic canned crushed tomatoes or make your own.

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Zucchini & Carrot ‘Noodles’ in Red Sauce

(Makes 2 servings)

1 medium carrot

1/4-1/2 small zucchini

1 tsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. chopped onion

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup organic canned crushed tomatoes

1-2 tsp. Italian seasoning

salt & pepper, to taste

  1. Peel the zucchini.
  2. Using a spiralizer or julienne cutter make the carrots and zucchini into noodles.
  3. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the zucchini & carrots and boil for 1-2 minutes. Keep a close eye on them; you want them to be firm and overcooking will cause them to be mushy. Remove from water and set aside.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a pot. Add the onion and cook for 3-5 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant.
  5. Add the crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning and salt and pepper. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until heated through. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
  6. Add sauce to the noodles and serve!

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Microwave Zucchini Chips « Slimming Down


Check out these yummy zucchini chips that you can make right in the microwave!

 

Microwave Zucchini Chips « Slimming Down.

via Microwave Zucchini Chips « Slimming Down.

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D.I.Y. Microwave Popcorn


Ok, so why am I just now finding out that you can make your own microwave popcorn?  When I saw this on the Dr. Oz Show I was so surprised that this wasn’t a well known fact (or maybe it is & I am just behind the times?). I immediately tried this out and now that I have, I will never buy microwave popcorn again.

After a little research I did come to learn that this is considered “air popped” popcorn and so if you don’t add any oil or butter it is an extremely healthy snack. In regards to Weight Watchers, this version of microwave popcorn is actually less points (well only 1 less, but every little bit counts when you’re trying to lose) than the 94% Fat Free microwave popcorn available in stores.

As for taste….I can honestly say it tastes freakin’ awesome!!  So much better than the chemical-laden kind I’m used to buying. I do actually like it completely plain, but for a little added flavor I sometimes add a little bit of salt and  some “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” Buttery Spray.

As for my recipe below (you really don’t need a recipe, but for those of you who feel better with one…which is ok, trust me I’ve been there….I’ve included it) it should make about 3 cups, but depending on your microwave and if all the kernels actually pop or not will make the difference, so you may need to adjust the amount of kernels you are using. I chose to only try to make 3 cups because 3 c. equals only 2 WW Points Plus. Which is a decent size snack for such a small points amount. If you use ¼ cup of kernels you’ll have about a regular size bag of microwave popcorn (5-6 cups).

One last note…this is an official “Hubby-Approved” snack! Made it for Hubby (with the salt and buttery spray) and he thoroughly enjoyed it. No more store bought, chemically altered, fattening microwave popcorn for this family!!

Microwave Popcorn (WW Points Plus = 2)

2 tbsp. popcorn kernels

1 brown paper lunch sack

Salt, to taste

10 sprays, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” Buttery Spray

  1. Add popcorn kernels to the brown paper bag and fold over 2-3 times.
  2. Place bag upright and set microwave for 3 minutes on high. Popcorn will probably be done within 2-2 ½ minutes, but it’s best to set it for longer and pay close attention to when the popping stops. When popping is down to 1-2 seconds between pops, remove from microwave. (If you leave it in too long it will burn, just like the store bought kind.)
  3. Add salt to bag and shake.
  4. Spray 5 sprays of the buttery spray on popcorn and shake. Spray 5 more times and shake.
  5. Pour in a bowl and serve.
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Slimmed Down Sensation: Sirloin Steak Salad (Friendly’s Copycat)


I am not ashamed to admit that I enjoy eating at Friendly’s once in a while. I know quite a few adults who LOATHE Friendly’s!

But sometimes you just crave some high fat high calorie fried comfort food…and of course you can’t eat there without getting ice cream. So if you’re trying to eat even a little bit healthy this is not the place to go. My current favorite dish is the Bleu Moon Sirloin Salad. Sometimes I just sit at home and crave it…I must have it!

Friendly's Bleu Moon Sirloin Salad

It’s actually one of their more “adult” meals with crispy romaine lettuce topped with Sirloin steak, pepper, carrots, cherry tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles and crispy onion strings. Served with a dijon vinaigrette….ok I am drooling just writing out the ingredients. Of course, like most “entrée salads” at chain restaurants, this yummy dish comes at a costly (including salad dressing) 860 calories, 40 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, and 83 carbohydrates (23 WW points plus). Sometimes I am willing to indulge in this as long as it is my “Faturday” and it won’t send me over my “Points” limit, but then I got to thinking…why don’t I save some money and some calories and make my own?

Of course, this does not taste as good as the original, but it is pretty darn tasty…and when I think of all the calories and fat I am saving, it makes it taste even better! I am still working on getting the dressing to taste like Friendly’s…can’t quite get that one down yet, but the Dijon Vinaigrette I’ve listed in the recipe is still really good on this salad or any salad, for that matter.  One word of caution, though, it is a bit on the thin side and so it’s a bit runny. The best way to use it is to put your salad in a container or bowl with a lid and shake it up. This way it will get distributed throughout and you’ll see that this small amount really goes far.

As far as the steak you can use whatever type you like, as long as it is a fairly lean cut and is trimmed of fat. I suggest sirloin strip, but the steak in the picture above was a filet mignon. Be sure to weigh your steak before cooking it to make sure you are following the appropriate portion size.

As far as Weight Watchers points, the great news is that my version is only 6 points!

Friendly’s = 23; Mandy’s  = 6!!!!!!

Holy Cow, that is a BIG difference!! It means, I can still have some light ice cream along with it and not feel so bad!

Slimmed Down Sensation: Sirloin Steak Salad (Friendly’s Copycat)

(WW points = 6, this is for the whole salad including the onion crisps & dressing)

3 cups romaine lettuce, chopped

1 carrot, sliced or shredded

¼ of green pepper, sliced (more if you really like green peppers)

4-6 cherry tomatoes

3 oz. sirloin steak, trimmed of fat

salt & pepper to taste

2 tbsp. reduced fat blue cheese crumbles

¼ serving, Onion Crisps (recipe follows)

2 tbsp. Dijon Vinaigrette Salad Dressing (recipe follows.)

  1. Sprinkle both sides of steak with salt and pepper. Cook steak either on the grill or under the oven broiler to desired doneness. Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes. Slice into strips or cut into cubes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the salad by putting the lettuce, carrots, and pepper in a bowl or container with a lid. Add the dressing and shake well to coat all the vegetables.
  3. Transfer to large bowl or plate and top with steak, blue cheese crumbles, tomatoes and onion crisps.

 

Onion Crisps (WW points plus = 1)

1 small onion, sliced thin

¼ cup fiber one cereal, crushed

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. black pepper

¼ cup refrigerated egg substitute (i.e. egg beaters)

  1. Slice onion in very thin pieces, preferably with a mandolin slicer.
  2. Crush the cereal by either placing in a plastic Ziploc bag and crushing with a rolling pin or use a blender/food processor.
  3. Put the cereal, salt & pepper in a Ziploc bag.
  4. Put the egg beaters in a bowl and dip the onions shaking off excess. Once you dip the onions place in the bag with the cereal. Once all pieces have been dipped in the egg beaters and added to the bag, shake to coat.
  5. On a non-stick baking sheet, spread out the coated onions and bake in a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes until crispy.

 

Dijon Vinaigrette Salad Dressing (1 Serving = 2 tbsp.; 2 tbsp. = 1 WW points plus)

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

¼ cup chicken stock

1/8 tsp. onion powder

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

2 tbsp. olive oil

  1. Combine all ingredients, except for olive oil, in a blender and blend until well combined. Add the olive oil slowly into the running blender to emulsify.
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Low Fat Peanut Butter…a new food addiction.


So I may be late in finding this amazing low fat peanut butter, but I had been reading some weight loss forums and heard a lot of buzz. What am I talking about? No, not “Better n’ Peanut Butter”…this is better than “Better n’ Peanut Butter”!!!

I am talking about PB2 people!!!

PB2 is powdered peanut butter (made by Bell Plantation www.bellplantation.com) that is all natural with no preservatives and no chemicals to make it reduced fat. The process used to make PB2 removes 85% of  the fat calories. Just scoop out two tablespoons and add about a tablespoon of water (I usually add a tad bit more to make it creamier), mix it up and *POOF* you’ve got delicious peanut butter.

Now, for those of you who are used to the regular peanut butter you get at the grocery store (i.e. Jif, Skippy, etc.) this will not taste like that. Instead it will taste purely like peanuts! A few years back I had purchased peanut butter at a local farmer’s market and I fell in love with it…of course it had a ton of oil in it, but nothing else, no sugar, preservatives or chemicals. It just tasted so NATURAL! And PB2 tastes exactly the same as all natural peanut butter, just without the oil, so it has a bit of a different texture. They also sell a chocolate PB2, but not sure if that really will taste as good as it sounds…if I ever get adventurous maybe I’ll try it out!

All in all, this stuff is definitely the best reduced fat peanut butter I have tried…EVER…and believe me I’ve tried em’ all. Some more good news….for those Weight Watchers users out there 2 tbsps. of PB2 is only 1 point! Compare that to regular peanut butter (2 tbsp = 5 points!) and reduced fat peanut butter (2 tbsp = 5 points) and you can see how truly amazing this is!

It is rare that I get excited about a healthy food, but when I do…look out. After I lose my remaining 36 lbs (and I’m done dieting….I think I just like to say diet because you’re not supposed to!) PB2 will defitely be coming with me on my next journey to eat healthy. Get it…first I diet to lose this weight than I take what I’ve learned and start eating healthy and natural.

I will leave you with this photo of my delicious breakfast (Fiber One English Muffin with 2 tablespoons of PB2). And I highly recommend you get on the internet and order this stuff….like right now!!

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