Healthier Hot Chocolate, from scratch

downloadIngredients:

  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1.5 tbsp of really good cocoa powder (i like this one)
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of whipped cream or 1/3 cup of mini marshmallows on top (optional, each option are 2 pts+)

Directions:

Put milk and almond milk on the stove and heat until almost boiling. Mix in agave and powder ingredients with a whisk. Pour into a pretty mug and top with whipped cream or marshmallows.

Make your own whipped cream or marshmallows for the most whole product!

Farmer’s markets, specialty stores, and other fun places will sell gourmet cocoa powders or vanilla extracts! These special touches make for an even more fun experience and product! Enjoy!

This is a healthier version of a homemade hot chocolate but it is still a “treat”. The agave will help prevent that sugar crash and the almond milk packs a nice protein punch! And of course, use a really good dark chocolate with antioxidants!

This recipe makes 1 cups of hot chocolate. Weight watchers Points Plus 2012: 6 points

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Banana “Ice Cream” & Granola Mug

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Ingredients:

You are going to need a Yonanas machine (I know some people use blenders or food processors to make these whips but the Yonanas machine is specifically made to make them).

When you have 3 or 4 bananas that are overripe at the end of the week, DO NOT throw them away! Cut them in half and freeze them for this recipe, smoothies, or anything else!

To make the “ice cream”, you simply place your favorite coffee mug under the machine’s spout, put your frozen banana in the top and and use the plunger to push the banana through the machine! They will come out with a very similar consistency to ice cream. You can also visit the Yonanas site to see how it works with photos and videos!

I like mine a few ways: with mini chocolate chips, with sliced almonds and a drizzle of good caramel sauce, or with granola!

This recipe makes one mugful of “ice cream”. With the 1/3 cup of Banana Sunbelt Granola: Weight watchers Points Plus 2012: 3 points

I consider this a special weekend treat because you have to have the bananas ready to go, need to wash the machine after you are done (which can take a little extra time than your normal breakfast clean up), and because even though it is only technically 3 points, there are 2 bananas in this which are high in sugar (even though its the best kind of sugar, in its most natural form).

*The machine is dishwasher safe, so you better believe mine is going in there!

Overall this is super healthy and incredibly delicious!! Let me know what you think of it!

2 Great Salads, 4 Points each!

These 2 easy salads have 3 of the same ingredients and 3 different ingredients; this makes for little waste, easier shopping, and easier points tracking!

The 3 constant ingredients in the salads are Organic Baby Spinach leaves (1 cup), Crumbled Feta (1.5 tbsp), and Honey Roasted Almond Slices (1 tbsp). CLICK HERE FOR COUPON FOR ALMOND ACCENTS!

5244d746-d64b-4b46-81fd-ff508d6e2b65wallpaper*Collage by Photovisi

Salad #1: Honey Balsamic Watermelon Salad

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To make this salad, place the 3 constant ingredients (listed above) into the bowl. Add 1/2 cup of sliced tomato, 1/2 cup of cubed watermelon, and 2 tbsp of Ken’s Honey Balsamic Dressing!

Salad #2: Sesame Ginger Mandarin Orange Salad

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To make this salad, place the 3 constant ingredients (listed above) into the bowl. Add cucumber slices (about 1/4 cup), 1/4 cup of drained mandarin oranges, and 2 tbsp of Newman’s Own Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing!

Weight Watchers Points Plus 2012: 4 points for each salad!!

Enjoy a whole wheat roll and fresh baked cookie alongside of one of these salads to make a great lunch! Wash it down with my Blueberry-Lemon Iced Tea!

The spinach is packed with antioxidants and the protein provided by the almonds and feta will help these salads keep you full until dinner!

Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Crock Pot Sweet Potatoes

The very best way to cook sweet potatoes, in my experience, is in the crock pot! They come out PERFECT every single time! This is easiest way to get the best outcome with the least prep time!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 or 3 sweet potatoes (similar in size, about 5″ is great for a single person)
  • 1/4 cup of water

Directions:

Pour the 1/4 cup of water into the crock pot, the temperature of the water doesn’t matter. Clean the outside of the potatoes off with warm water; you can use a vegetable brush if you have one but I just do the best I can with my hands. Place the potatoes in the pot, cover, and cook on high for 4 hours.

Serve with a little butter, salt, and pepper or gravy! Delicious.

I also really like to put these into a salad, especially with a red wine vinegar dressing! (see photo above)

The water and the heat steam the potatoes; when they come out they are so soft!

If nutients were money, sweet potatoes would be considered the Oprahs, Bill Gates’, and Beyonces of the vegetables. They are full of fiber, potassium and a variety of vitamins. This article discusses the benefits of sweet potatoes in even more detail, if you are interested!

Weight watchers Points Plus 2012: 4 Points for 5″ potato with 1/2 tbsp of butter spread (I like Smart Balance Butter & Canola and Extra Virgin Olive Oil Blend), salt and pepper.

*I have only ever used this technique to cook 2-3 potatoes at a time so if you were looking to make more, I would be lying if I told you it works, or not. I don’t think it could hurt to try…if you do, let me know how it goes…

 
Enjoy!!

Gnocchi with Sausage Sauce

For dinner tonight, I cooked up a simple dish that I really like, potato gnocchi topped with sausage meat tomato sauce!download-6

First, I cooked a pack of Ronzoni potato gnocchi in salted boiling water. You know they are done when they float. I strained them and set them aside until the sauce was ready.

*tip, if you put a tiny drop of oil in the cooking water, the pasta wont stick together once you strain it and let it sit for a few minutes while your sauce or whatever else is being finished.

Then, I “squeezed” the meat out of the casings of 3 sausage links (you can choose any kind you like, the leaner the better if you are following WW, I chose organic turkey sausage) to make ground sausage. I browned the meat in a pan and added it to one 15 ounce can of tomato sauce. I added my favorite seasonings (garlic and onion powder, pepper, salt, and Italian seasoning blend) I heated the sauce throughout and spooned it over 1 cup of cooked gnocchi. I always grate asiago cheese on top with my favorite microplane! Enjoy!

This recipe makes about 2-3 servings.

Weight watchers Points Plus: 5 points for 1 cup of gnocchi, 3 points for 3/4 cup of sauce; TOTAL: 8 points plus **Add a point or so for the cheese (optional)

The turkey sausage packs a punch of protein and the lycopene in the tomato sauce is rich in antioxidants!!

Only have a half cup of gnocchi with a huge salad on the side if you don’t have as many points left!

 

Poorman Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground meat (I use organic ground turkey)
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup of frozen corn (you can use any frozen veggies you like)
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese (1/4 cup per serving; I used a mix of provolone and mozzarella)
  • 1 can of petite diced tomatoes (28 ounce)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 6 cups of chicken broth (homemade is the best!)
  • 4 cups of uncooked pasta
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook pasta according to package directions.

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Brown meat in a large pot, the same pot you will use for the rest of the soup.

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When meat is browned, add broth, seasoning, and tomatoes to the pot and bring to a boil. (I puree the tomatoes because my husband doesn’t like the tomatoes in “chunks”)

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Once soup is boiling, add veggies and cook until the veggies are tender. To serve, put one cup of pasta in a bowl, top with a few ladles of soup, and finish off with 1/4 cup of cheese per serving.

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This soup provides a lean source of protein from the meat and the tomatoes provide lycopene, an incredibly healthy antioxidant compound! Enjoy!

This recipe makes about 10 cups of soup, not including the pasta! I freeze 4 cups of the soup for later. Weight watchers Points Plus 2012: 4 points for 1 cup (add 4 points for one cup of pasta and another 2 for the cheese)

Italian Wedding Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound ground meat (I use chicken breast)
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tbs dry whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbs grated Parmesan cheese (plus extra to sprinkle on top)
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 6 cups of chicken broth (homemade is the best!)
  • 2 cups of slices escarole
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo
  • 1/3 cup of chopped carrot
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Put chicken broth on the stove in a large pot and cover. In a big bowl combine meat, egg, crumbs, cheese, italian seasoning, onion powder, and garlic powder; mix with your hands and form tiny meatballs. Once the broth starts to boil, add the meatballs (one at a time) followed by the escarole, carrots, and pasta. Gently stir and cook on medium high until pasta is al dente. Take a meat ball out, cut it in half. The meatball should be cooked through (if not, cook a little while longer). Serve with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. Enjoy!

This soup is all of your food groups in one bowl! It is so adorable with the meatballs! The escarole is high in vitamin A (good for healthy vision) and C (good for skin and immunity). The chicken broth I make is full of minerals from the chicken bones like calcium and magnesium! I like to eat this alongside the Bulgar Salad or the Mediterranean Tuna Salad!

This recipe makes about 5 cups of soup! Weight watchers Points Plus 2012: 4 points for 1 cup

*recipes was adapted from allrecipes.com

Mediterranean Tuna Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15 ounce) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 (4 ounce) cans of chunk light tuna in water, drained
  • 1 cup of cucumber, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper chopped
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 teaspoons of dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup of feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine all ingredients and serve over greens, beside some sliced fruit with a slice of toasted whole wheat baguette, or with a bowl of soup! Enjoy!!

Add olives if you wish! (I don’t care for olives so I leave them out)

This recipe makes about 6 cups. Weight watchers Points Plus 2012: 4 points for 1 cup

This is very filling, full of protein, healthy fats, and fiber! All the lemon juice is great for weight loss because it aids in digestion!

*this recipe was adapted from laaloosh.com!

Weight loss tip!

This is one of my favorite tips that helps me with portion control/Weight Watchers…

I store a serving of soup or chili in a 1 cup mason jar, place a post-it under the band of the jar and label with the number of Points. I also write the name of the contents and the date! I keep these either in the freezer or fridge!