Mandy's Marvelous Meals

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

Girl Scout Cookie Fix & Why Slow Weight Loss Wins


Today was my Week 7 weigh-in with a loss of another 1.5 lbs. bringing my total loss so far to 13.5 lbs. Even though I strive to lose 2 lbs/week that has not been happening…and after indulging in some Panera Bread (why do they offer a ‘side of bread’ when you order a sandwich? I swear I wanted to say ‘apple’ but a craving for refined carbs took over!!) on Monday I thought for sure I’d only lose another pound so I was pretty excited to see that extra 1/2 lb. on the scale.

In last week’s weigh-in post I mentioned that it was probably time for me to start exercising….so some of you may be wondering how that is going….well it’s NOT!!! What can I say? I’ve been so worn down and have had allergy-related migraines for the past 3 days so it’s been a struggle just to make it to work each day. Hopefully I’ll start to feel better and I’ll have no more excuses! And hopefully that will help me get back to 2 pounds per week.

Even if it doesn’t….I am ok with that. Or at least that is what I keep telling myself. I read this article “Why Slow Weight Loss Wins” on the Weight Watcher’s website and it is a nice little reminder how losing weight too quickly will pretty much guarantee that you’ll put it back on. I can definitely relate to this because I’ve been through many diets and with a lot of them I lost pretty fast, but yet here I am back to my larger self….so obviously something went wrong. Maybe all those cliche’s are right…”slow and steady wins the race”, “one pound is better than no pounds”??

Anyway…on to the good stuff: Girl Scout Cookies! I am proud to say I survived Girl Scout Cookie Season unharmed…even though everywhere I turned there were cute little girls outside of stores asking me to buy and my co-workers had boxes perched on their desks…I did not eat any!! What is in those things anyway? Some form of Girl Scout crack?!?!

My favorite kind is Thin Mints and so when I came across Edy’s Light Thin Mint Ice Cream (Available for a limited time only!) at the grocery store I grabbed it and it tastes awesome!

I pair it up with Fiber One Brownies  for a “brownie sundae” that is low-fat, low-cal heaven! Have you tried these brownies? I was a little skeptical at first, but they are only 2 WW PointsPlus so I gave them a try and was blown away by how good they taste. They are sooooo chocolatey!!

So here is my recipe for a quick and tasty snack with a total WW Points Plus value of 4! Enjoy

Thin Mint Ice Cream/Fiber One Brownie Sundae(Makes 1 serving; 4 WW PP)

1 Fiber One Fudge Brownie

1/4 cup Edy’s Thin Mint Light Ice Cream

  1. Unwrap brownie and place in a bowl. Scoop out 1/4 cup of ice cream, place on top of brownie and indulge!!!

 

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Italian Classic Slimmed Down


So I have finished week 6 on Weight Watchers with a total loss of 12 lbs. Not too bad although my weight loss has slowed a bit. I’m afraid to admit that I might be forced to start exercising regularly. I know I should be doing this anyway, but I’m not going to lie…I pretty much hate exercise. I’ve done it in the past because I know it is important not only for weight loss but for your overall health, but I’ve never been able to stick to any type of exercise plan. So this upcoming week my goal is to start moving a bit…wish me luck!!!

At least the eating part of losing weight has started to get easier. There are days when I’m still hungry, but not like before. I’m getting more and more creative with ways to “slim down” my favorite foods. I have to say this makes life a lot easier. There is nothing worse than the feeling of deprivation. Even if I can’t come up with a slimmed down version of something, I do not deprive myself. I actually can eat just a small amount and feel good about it. I have definitely surprised myself this time around with my change in thinking….before it was “well I already had one bite of cheesecake so I’ve ruined whatever good I’ve done; might as well go ahead and eat the whole piece.” But now I genuinely am happy to only have one small sliver of cake, or only one cookie, or one piece of candy. I’ve heard this many times before and I’m sure you have too. For some reason I could just never control myself when it came to treats or “junk food” and when I say control myself I mean I would always want more and more and more. I could not just eat one or two so I thought it was better to just avoid it all together. Ultimately though I would always end up over-indulging….and I always thought this was just the way I am. I really never thought I could change.

If this sounds familiar, I am here to tell you that you actually can change your thinking and maybe you think you have no will-power but it is within you….you just have to find what works for you. This is coming from someone who thought they would never be able to change and would never be satisfied with just one small bite of something.

Now, if I can just change my thinking when it comes to exercise…..

Until then here is a Slimmed Down Sensation for Chicken Franchaise (sorry about the quality of the pics. Forgot to take some so snapped a few on my phone before we ate). A favorite Italian dish of mine, which like a lot of dishes uses lots of oil and butter. So, this was a pretty easy one to slim down since it’s mostly about cutting down on the “bad stuff.” The whole recipe, including the lemon pasta is only 10 WW Points Plus. Serve with a big heaping of veggies on the side and you’ll feel like you just ate at a fine Italian Restaurant.

Slimmed Down Chicken Francaise (Serves 1; WW points plus = 10)

Chicken:

4 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, pounded to about 1/4″ thick.

1 tsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. whole wheat flour

1 tbsp. refrigerated egg substitute (such as Egg Beaters)

1/4 tsp. salt

1 pinch black pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tbsp. white wine

2 tbsp. chicken stock

1/2 medium sized lemon, sliced thin

1/2 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley

Lemon Pasta:

1/2 cup cooked whole wheat spaghetti

1/2 tsp. olive oil

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. seasoned bread crumbs

salt & pepper, to taste

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley

  1. Cook spaghetti per package directions. Set aside.
  2. Prepare chicken by pounding it to about 1/4″ thickness with a meat mallet or rolling pin. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of chicken.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add oil.
  4. Place the flour and egg substitute in two seperate shallow bowls.
  5. Dredge the chicken in the flour, coating well on both sides, shaking off any excess. Then dip the chicken in the egg substitute making sure to drip off any excess.
  6. Add to the hot oil and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side. Use a meat thermometer to determine if the chicken is fully cooked. It should read 180 degrees F.
  7. When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pan and set aside, covering loosely with foil to keep warm.
  8. To the pan, add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Next add the wine, chicken stock and the slices of lemon. Continue to cook over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until reduced slightly.
  9. Pour sauce over chicken.(Remove lemon slices, if desired. The flavor will still be in the sauce)
  10. To prepare the pasta, add the olive oil, lemon juice, bread crumbs, salt & pepper, garlic powder and parsley. The pasta can be served hot or cold. If your spaghetti is cool heat over low heat for a few minutes, being careful not to scorch.
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Milkshake for Dinner!!


That’s right…I ate a milkshake for dinner! No, I don’t feel bad about it….thanks to my Slimmed Down version…a protein shake disguised as a milkshake!

Sometimes I crave ice cream…Cold Stone Creamery…McDonald’s Milkshakes or Wendy’s Frosty or Dairy Queen Blizzard….mmmmm.

Unfortunately I have to face the fact that I am no long 19 years old and giving in to these cravings is a really bad idea.  Especially eating these things as a meal (which in my younger years I’ve been known to do…Ben & Jerry’s for lunch anyone?). When I get these cravings, though, I just really don’t want anything else to eat. A friend of mine who is also a dietician told me once that these are called “food jags” and that this behavior starts in childhood…it is quite common for toddlers…but I guess there are those of us out there that never outgrow it. She blamed it on my parents for giving in to these jags…sorry mom & dad…but hey as long as it’s not my fault and it’s not totally abnormal! I mean, it’s not like I sit around 365 days a year eating ice cream products (wow, I’d probably weigh 700 lbs!!) for every meal. Don’t worry I go through all kinds of jags (it was Lucky Charms a few months back) and I don’t eat the same thing for every meal, even though sometimes I might want to.

Protein shakes are a good meal replacement so by adding a little candy and blending it with ice, I feel like I’m drinking a milkshake. I usually use regular Whoppers, but since it’s Easter I grabbed a bag of seasonal malted milk balls.

If you want to eat it as just a snack you can always omit the protein powder. The cottage cheese and milk makes a great base so the sky’s the limit when it comes to different flavors.

So how about you? Do you still have food jags? What is your biggest weakness when it comes to food?

 

“Whopper” (Malted Milk Ball) Protein Shake (WW Points Plus = 8)

1/2 cup fat-free cottage cheese

1/2 cup almond milk

1/4 cup water

2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tbsp. malted milk powder

1 cup ice

1/4 tsp. Xanthan Gum

3-4 malted milk balls candy, crushed (or 6 “Whoppers Mini Robbin Eggs”)

1 scoop vanilla or chocolate protein powder

2 tbsp. Splenda

  1. Place the candy in a small ziploc bag and seal. Gently crush the candy with a meat mallet or rolling pin. Set aside.
  2. Add all other ingredients to a blender and blend until ice is crushed and desired consistency is reached.
  3. Stir in the crushed candy.
  4. Serve and enjoy.
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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: Cheesy Chicken Quesadilla


This is a really quick, filling, and downright delicious low-cal dish! I often make this for dinner or make it at night and pack it in my lunch…it’s actually not so bad reheated in the microwave. I serve it with a salad or a very large side of seasoned steamed green beans. In the picture below, I used Mission 96% Fat Free wheat tortillas, but the low carb whole wheat tortillas are actually better in regards to calories and carbs and are less WW points.  I picked these up because they were on sale :).

Also pictured is my really old school kitchen scale (purchased at the Dollar Tree for $1!!). This scale has served me well for many years and I am sad to report that it just broke on Sunday! It has now been replaced by a more upscale digital version. I had to replace it quickly since a scale is one kitchen gadget I cannot live without.  If I have learned anything about eating healthy…even when you’re not trying to lose weight, but want to maintain that girlish figure…it is that you should always measure your food. Portion control is so important and especially crucial for losing weight. I know you have heard this before, but I am telling you as someone who has learned from experience. I didn’t always measure everything because I thought I had pretty good judgment of what the serving size of something should be…and with practice I actually do have good judgment, but nothing compares to actually measuring it out. I now even keep measuring cups and measuring spoons at work for times when I eat things that can be kept at the office (i.e. salad dressing, cereal, milk, etc.). Yes, my co-workers look at me like I’m weird, but I don’t care! This time around on WW I religiously measure and/or weigh everything! So far this seems to be working out quite well as I’ve been losing weight at an average of 2 lbs. per week.  Save using your “best judgement” for eating out.

Some of you may wonder, “Should I measure fruits and vegetables?” I typically do not measure veggies because on WW you can basically eat as much as you want, but it is good to know what an actual “serving” of veggies is. For instance, did you know that a serving of asparagus is only about 6 stalks? I sure didn’t…I probably usually eat 20 in one sitting! But veggies have been my savior this time around in my weight loss quest. I fill up on a huge salad or a large side of veggies along with my other food at both lunch and dinner so that I am not hungry. As far as fruit goes, yes it is a better alternative to picking up that candy bar, but it still has sugar, so I do measure my fruit. Remember, the dietary guidelines for fruit is 2-4 servings per day and a serving is considered ½ cup or 1 whole apple, banana, orange, etc.

Ok, ok…that concludes my advice for this post….let’s get back to the good stuff! This amazingly large and yummy quesadilla!

Word of caution…this will be sloppy when eaten!

Cheesy Chicken Quesadilla (Makes 1 serving; 5 or 6 WW points plus, depending on type of tortilla used)

1 Whole Wheat Tortilla

1 wedge Laughing Cow Light Queso Fresco & Chipotle Cheese

2 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast cooked, shredded

½ cup fat-free salsa

1 tbsp. black beans, drained and rinsed

2 tbsp. fat free cheddar cheese, shredded

  1. In a bowl, combine the salsa, chicken and black beans. 
  2. Spread the Laughing Cow cheese over the tortilla. 
  3. Spread the salsa/chicken mixture on half of the tortilla and top with the cheddar cheese. 
  4. Fold over the other half of the tortilla and press down gently, being careful not to push out any of the filling. 
  5. Heat a skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Place the quesadilla in the pan and carefully turn over after 2-3 minutes, or until the bottom of the tortilla is browned and crisp. Cook on the other side for another 2-3 minutes until heated through and the bottom of the tortilla is brown and crisp. (Alternately you could bake this. I usually make mine in my Nu-Wave oven and it comes out just as crispy and delicious!)
  6. Remove from pan and using a pizza cutter, carefully cut the quesadilla into 4 pieces. 
  7. Serve with extra salsa and fat free sour cream on the side. Don’t forget plenty of paper towels!
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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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25 Diet-Busting Foods You Should Never Eat | Yahoo! Health#0


25 Diet-Busting Foods You Should Never Eat | Yahoo! Health#0.

Good article….not too surprised with some of it, but I have to say I was sad to see Reese’s Puffs and Brown Sugar Pop-Tarts…love them!!!!

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Slimmed Down Sensations: Whole Wheat Pizza with Chicken and Arugula


As I lie awake at night and mentally compile a list of recipes I want to share on this blog….and as I scroll through Pinterest and I’m bombarded with pictures of beautiful and decadent looking food, I’m hit with a harsh reality….I AM HUNGRY!!! I’m thinking starting a food blog and a diet at the same time was not a great idea. Today marks one week that I’ve been using Weight Watchers online and so far so good I’ve lost 4 lbs! But is it so wrong that I want to continue to make my yummy sweet treats and rich, savory meals!? I want a cupcake!! I want pasta with cream sauce!! But could it be my new found passion for cooking is the reason I am now faced with the need to lose 40 pounds? You see, not only do I love to cook food…I love to eat it…and I typically only like to make food that I like. I am not ashamed to admit I love junk food and comfort food. Of course, I love a good salad and veggies once in a while, but what is even better…veggies smothered in cheese! Salad with creamy dressing and croutons!

Nowadays (luckily for me) there are good recipes that are low fat, low carb, low calorie, etc. and with using the Weight Watchers tools it is easy to punch in a recipe and see how many points it is and it’s actually kind of fun to try to make ingredient substitutions to see if you can lower the WW points value  (and still have it taste good!). Of course, nothing tastes as good as the real thing (sugar, butter, whole milk, heavy cream, white flour….ok I need help!) but I think I’ve come up with some decent recipes for those of us who are not blessed with genes to eat anything we want and stay slim.

So with that, I am going to provide “slimmed-down” versions of some of the recipes I share on this blog, as well as some others I’ve come up with. The first one is for pizza, since my first post was pizza dough. This pizza uses a whole wheat crust and other low fat ingredients. If anyone tries it out I’d love to hear your feedback and advice on how to make it better. It is “diet food” (yes, I am still going to use the term “diet”, even though it is taboo this day in age!) but it’s actually pretty good diet food…however, I’m sure it can always be better! So please share your thoughts!

Ok, so here is the recipe. For those Weight Watchers users out there this recipe has a Pointsplus value of 4, and a serving is 1/8 of the pizza. Also, I would suggest adjusting the spices to your own taste. I’ve provided exact measurements, but you may want to adjust things based on your own preferences. Remember, if you adjust the other ingredients (amount of chicken, types of cheese, etc.) the Pointsplus value will change.

Whole Wheat Pizza with Chicken & Arugula

Ingredients:

Dough:                                    

2  to 2 ¼ cups whole wheat flour

2 ¼ tsp. quick rise yeast

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. sugar

1 tbsp. olive oil, + ½ tbsp. olive oil for bowl

1 c. very warm water (125 degrees)

Pizza:

4 oz. cooked, boneless skinless chicken breast, shredded

1 cup arugula

2 part-skim mozzarella string cheese, shredded in food processor or blender.

2 tbsp. shredded parmesan cheese

1 cup canned crushed tomatoes

Salt, to taste

2 tsp. minced garlic  (or ½-1 tsp. garlic powder)

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried basil

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the dough:
  • In a food processor, combine 1 ½ cups of the flour, the yeast, sugar, and salt. Pulse one or two times to combine the dry ingredients.
  • Add water and olive oil and process until a smooth dough forms.
  • Add the remaining flour 2 tbsp. at a time, processing between each addition, until the dough forms into a manageable ball. (It should not be sticky)
  • Poor ½ tbsp. of olive oil into a bowl and place the dough ball into the bowl, turning to coat with the oil.
  • Cover and let rise in a warm, dark place for about 35 minutes.
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Prepare the sauce by combining the crushed tomatoes, salt, garlic, oregano and basil in a small bowl.
  3. Once the dough has risen, roll it out onto a lightly floured surface.
  4. Bake the pizza crust for about 5 minutes in the preheated oven (this will give you a crispier crust). Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a minute or two.
  5. Top the crust with the sauce, arugula, chicken, and cheese, making sure to spread the ingredients evenly over the crust.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  7. Cut into 8 pieces and enjoy…but don’t eat the whole thing! 😉

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