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It’s been a few weeks since I had to make some major diet changes to help manage my gestational diabetes and I think I’m FINALLY starting to get the hang of it.

While gestational diabetes only affects a small percentage of pregnant women, I’m sure I can speak for most expectant ladies when I say that many of us want to have the healthiest pregnancy possible while also minimizing the weight gain we’ll need to lose once the baby is born. So I wanted to share this low-carb recipe that has become a fast favorite in my household that anyone wanting to watch their carbs can appreciate. This is also a great recipe for #MeatlessMondays, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

I’m a huge fan of pasta. Ravioli, tortellini, lasagna, you name it. If it’s noodles, cheese, and a delicious sauce – red, white, I’m not picky – I’ll devour it. Now that I have gestational diabetes, pasta is off the table, quite literally. Sure, there are lower-carb versions, but the serving sizes allowed to still stay within my recommended limits are just SO SMALL. It’s not worth it. Instead, I turn to my beloved spaghetti squash to help me get my pasta fix.

Here’s what I do:

First, prepare the squash. There are a few different ways you can do this, which you’re free to Google, but here’s how I do it:

Preheat the oven to 375.  Slice the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. (I’m a weakling so if the hubs is around, I have him do the cutting.) Rub a little olive oil over the insides and place the cut sides face down on a baking sheet. Bake for around 45 minutes, or until the flesh of the squash is easily pierced with a fork. Once it’s done, scoop out the squash with a fork or large spoon (it’ll look like a little like spaghetti), season with garlic salt and pepper and set aside.

Don’t turn off the oven. You’ll use it again in a minute.

In another bowl, I mix together a 1:1 ratio of ricotta cheese and cottage cheese. I don’t really measure it, but I eyeball about half a container of each so that in about a week I can use the rest of both containers for another batch or a different recipe.

In a baking dish, I put half the squash on the bottom, cover with half the ricotta/cottage cheese mixture, pour a thin layer of spaghetti sauce, sprinkle a thin layer of mozzarella, and repeat – squash, ricotta/cottage cheese, sauce, mozzarella. And then I top it all off with some parmesan. Yes, I realize that’s a lot of dairy/cheese, but if you use mostly low-fat products and keep the layers thin, it’s not bad.

Pop the baking dish back in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and almost turning brown. If your dish is really deep, better to cover it with aluminum foil and let it bake for closer to 25 minutes to make sure the middle gets nice and warm to melt the cheese.

The result:

lasagna

It’s so good you won’t even miss real pasta noodles.

Just as a recap, here’s your ingredient list:

  • 1 Spaghetti Squash
  • 1/2 container Ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 container cottage cheese
  • 1 pkg mozzarella (I use about 1/2-3/4 of the entire package)
  • 1 jar of spaghetti sauce
  • Parmesan
  • olive oil
  • garlic salt
  • black pepper
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The Thanksgiving Menu

I know this is already more than a week late, but I don’t care. I want to make sure I document a couple of the recipes we used for Thanksgiving so I can reuse them again in the future.

So here’s what was on the menu:

Appetizers:

  • Chips & dip
  • Chips & salsa
  • Cheese & crackers
  • Variety of green olives

Main Course:

  • Turkey (Butterball – about 15lbs) – My mom handles this, but she basically removes the giblets and cooks them down in a small pot on the stove for gravy. Then she sticks pads of butter and fresh spices under the skin all over the turkey, rubs it with oil and we put it in my turkey roaster for a few hours.
  • Ham (Kentucky Legend, I believe. Don’t remember how big.)
  • Rolls (Sister Schubert’s brand. The best!)
  • Cranberry Jelly (from the can, which I hate and we also forgot to put out. No one missed it.)
  • Green bean casserole (my grandma always make this and brings it to my house. She doesn’t do anything fancy though so it’s basically just like this recipe, minus the soy sauce.)
  • Baked mac & cheese (The cousins I’d never met before brought this and it was REALLY good but I don’t have a recipe, sadly.)
  • Stuffing (My mom’s recipe which I’m pretty sure she just makes up in her head every year. All I know is she uses a mix of regular bread pieces and cornbread, finely chopped onions, carrots and celery, chicken stock, butter, breakfast sausage, and a mix of herbs & spices. It’s always delicious.)
  • Mashed potatoes (We always make mashed potatoes from scratch for the holidays, using your basic butter and milk recipe. HOWEVER, once I saw The Pioneer Woman’s mashed potatoes and that her secret ingredient is a package of cream cheese, I just had to try it. And hot damn was it delicious. I even forgot the seasoned salt and they were still amazing. Highly recommend.)
  • Sweet potato casserole (I can’t seem to find the exact recipe again but I essentially did this one without the topping and just sprinkled pecans and marshmallows on top during the last 10-15 minutes of baking.)
  • Kale and pancetta (My mom insisted on having some “greens” so this was our first attempt at making kale. We basically used this recipe, adding pancetta and leaving out the vinegar. While I didn’t have any of it, she said it was good.)

Desserts:

We had delicious pumpkin pie and pecan pie. From…Sam’s Club. I should be slightly embarrassed to admit this but you guys, their pies are SO GOOD and so big – not like the pies you buy from the grocery store. And they’re better than anything either of us could make homemade, which is saying something since we both love to bake.

My great aunt also brought over some peanut butter fudge and a cheesecake pie that was pretty tasty.

So that was our menu! I only wish I wouldn’t have been so crazed with everything so that I could’ve taken pictures. My place settings weren’t particularly fancy, though I did use my good/hand-wash only dishes, but I was just happy we could basically fit everyone at one big table, using real plates and silverware. When you’re catering to 12 people, this is much harder than it sounds!!

However I should probably also point out that I’ve already declared I’m not hosting again next year. I’ll gladly volunteer to bring the pies. :)

 

 

 

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It’s no secret that I’m not a great cook. Without a recipe, I’m pretty much useless in the kitchen. I think it all stems from growing up with the only grandma in the world that didn’t know how to cook. I can only recall two dishes that she would make that I would even eat as a kid – chili and chicken & dumplings. Once I went away to college, I dabbled with her chili recipe a bit, basically just omitting the onions and tomatoes she would often add and I would always pick out and throw away. So if you’re looking for a quick and easy chili recipe, you’ve come to the right place. My husband LOVES it. I’ve made it at least once a month every fall and winter that we’ve been together. I also make it for parties or large family dinners, and the leftovers taste even better the next day. Best of all, it’s Weight Watchers friendly (about 5-6 pts for 1 cup).

Ingredients:

  • 1 lbs lean ground turkey or beef, thawed
  • 2 cans of chili beans (I use Brooks brand most of the time)
  • 1 short can of tomato sauce
  • 1 packet of chili seasoning

Brown the ground beef/turkey in a large pot over medium-high heat and drain it. If you get the leanest meat there is, then it’s okay to be lazy and skip the draining step.

Add beans, tomato sauce and chili seasoning and stir. Cover with a lid and continue cooking for about 10 minutes over medium heat. If it starts to boil, turn down the heat.

Add a few shakes of hot sauce to make it spicy; put in a bowl and top with cheese and crackers; add veggies like onions or tomatoes during the cooking process if you’re into that sort of thing; WHATEVER. This is just the basics and you really can’t screw it up as long as you have those four basic ingredients above.

So now you all have my secret recipe for the best chili ever.

And while we’re all here, let’s do the weekly weigh-in (two days late because we were out of town until Monday night).

Week 3: -1.8 lbs
Total lbs lost: 5.2 lbs
Lbs to go: 34.8 lbs

When I saw the number this week, I didn’t believe it. I stepped on and off the scale at least 4 times and checked to make sure the scale was level. After the way I ate all weekend, I was sure I was going to see a gain this week. Honestly, I just think my bad eating hadn’t caught up with me yet. So I’ll take the loss this week, but I won’t be surprised if things aren’t so great next week. As far as any visible changes, my husband commented that my butt looked smaller, so that’s always nice. And one of my black work pants with a “tummy control” panel were actually a little loose, so I’d say I’m on the right track. I just have to remind myself that slow and steady wins the race, and to not let myself get discouraged if I don’t drop 10 lbs in a month.

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Lunch

My new lunch as of late.

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FlatOut Flatbread- light Italian herb
Weight Watchers jalapeño cheese
Roasted turkey

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Yes I did just write an entire blog post about my lunch. What about it?

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Now that I’m on Weight Watchers (progress report at the end), I’ve been attempting new, healthier recipes – all of which have been inspired by Pinterest. Here’s what I’ve tried, and my thoughts on the results. Also note that the photos are not mine. I’m too lazy for that. But you can follow the link to the original photo owner and their recipe.

Yogurt covered berries

blueberries

Easy to do, and a low-point snack (about 2pts), but after freezing them I failed to put them in an airtight container and so after about 24 hours, they were chalky and tasted like my freezer so I ended up throwing them out. Don’t make my mistake!! But even though this is a low-point snack, I didn’t love them enough to still use precious points on them. I’d rather not use any points and just eat an apple or a grapefruit.

Stuffed Strawberries

strawberries

I was on a bit of a berry kick last week. In addition to the blueberries, I also bought a container of strawberries. Half of them I dipped in yogurt like the blueberries, and the other half I just washed, pitted, and filled with Fat-Free Rediwhip. Verdict? AMAZING. So good that I bought another container of strawberries and already did this again. Much better snack and ZERO points.

Lemon Cake

lemoncake

I love all things lemon, so I was really hopeful about this recipe, which is just a box of lemon cake, 20 oz of diet 7-Up, and whipped cream as the “frosting.” But this did not live up to my expectations. I mean, it turned out fine, but it didn’t look very pretty and it was hard to figure out just how big of a piece to cut so that it was only 2pts. I find it MUCH easier to just buy the little individual 2pt Weight Watchers cakes or ice creams, though this is definitely a lot cheaper. Still pretty amazing that a box of cake mix and some diet soda can create a cake. Color me impressed.

Zucchini Oven Fries

zucchini

Oh man, do I love zucchini. And apparently everyone else does too because when I go to the store lately, all the good zucchinis are GONE. It’s a travesty. But anyway, this recipe is super simple. Take some zucchini, cut it however you want, toss in egg whites and then dip in a bread crumb and parm cheese mixture and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Seriously amazing and I could probably eat these every single day if people would stop buying all the damn zucchini.

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

lasagna

Ok, so this is a tad more labor intensive than the above recipes but OMG is it delicious. And honestly, really difficult to stick to portion sizes because it’s just THAT good. So first, you have to roast your squash. I hate cutting big fruits (cantelope or watermelon) or raw vegetables (acorn squash, spaghetti squash) with a knife because I’m always worried I’m going to accidentally stab myself in the process, so I prefer to bake my spaghetti squash whole first, and then cut it. Just stab it a bunch of times with a knife, bake at 375 for about an hour, and done. Then scoop out the seeds and throw those away. Scoop out the “meat” of the squash, and follow the recipe. The first time I made a version of this, I didn’t season it enough so if there’s one tip here that you won’t find in the recipe, it’s to use a hefty portion of garlic salt, a dash of regular salt, and a little pepper on your squash layers. I was also pretty terrible about measuring things out for this one so by my estimations, a portion size was about 7 or 8 pts, which isn’t bad if you can stick to that. So if you’re on Weight Watchers, you may want to calculate the points yourself and not go by my estimates. But if you’re not on Weight Watchers and just looking to make something that’s healthier or low-carb, try this. I made a side of garlic bread for the hubs and he even ate the leftovers the next day, which is really saying something because my husband NEVER eats leftovers. So this was definitely a winner.

If you have any favorite healthy dinner or lunch recipes to share, let me know!

Ok, so now it’s time for my weigh-in stats. I’ll try to just bury these within other posts because, let’s be honest, no one wants to read a post solely about my weight for the week.

Week 2: -1 lbs
Total lbs lost: 3.4 lbs
Lbs to go: 36.6 lbs

So I only lost 1 lbs. Disappointing, but expected. I used a lot of my flex points over the weekend and even had a couple of glasses of wine before I realized that 1/2 cup of wine is FOUR POINTS. Holy shizz that’s a lot. On top of that, I weigh in on Sunday mornings and Saturdays are always my “cheat” days, so this is just poor planning on my part. This past Saturday we had a gift card for Longhorn Steakhouse and even though I had green beans as my side, I’m sure they were doused in butter and oil because they tasted too good. And instead of choosing something healthy like fish, we did the porterhouse for two meal and…let’s just say I ate my fair share of it. I think I could be a vegetarian if it weren’t for steak. And bacon.

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One of my absolute favorite foods is pizza. Deep dish, thin crust, hand-tossed, New York style, frozen pizza, delivery, Pizza Hut, Domino’s – whatever. I love it all. Unfortunately, pizza loves me back and insists on sticking to my hips, thighs, butt, belly… I’d say that at least a few of the extra pounds I’m carrying around could be attributed to pizza alone. That’ s how much I love it.

Frozen pizza had become a bit of a default for lazy days at my house. It’s one of those staple grocery items we almost always pick up because it’s perfect for lunch or dinner. Just throw it in the oven and 20 minutes later, a tasty meal with almost zero mess. Forget to defrost something? Pizza. Need to run errands after work and not enough time to make something for dinner? Pizza. Lazy weeekends at home? Pizza.

But now that I’m on Weight Watchers, I can’t eat that crap anymore. And to be quite honest, frozen pizza leaves me feeling rather unhealthy afterward. I even got food poisoning from a frozen pizza once. That stuff is NOT good for you. But good news!! I found an alternative that’s super filling, healthier, and takes even less time to make.

Introducing the flatbread pizza (9 WW pts):

IMGP5433

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m no food photographer, but that’s a pretty big plate and just look at how big it is!

So here’s what you need:

  • FlatOut flatbread Spicy Italian (Warning: the Spicy Italian is pretty spicy so if you wouldn’t normally put red pepper flakes on your pizza, get the original kind)
  • Pizza sauce (or marinara sauce)
  • Turkey pepperoni
  • Mozzarella & Parmesean cheese
  • Additional veggie toppings optional

Preheat oven to 350. Put the flatbread in the oven on a baking sheet or pizza stone for 3 or 4 minutes. Pull it out, put on the sauce, then your toppings, then sprinkle with Mozzarella and Parmesean. Put it back in the oven for about 10 minutes and presto. Delicious pizza for WAY less calories and fat. Just one of these is enough to fill me up for the meal, but my husband likes to add a side of baked chips.

IMGP5435

Yum.

Now, for anyone else on WW, I know 9 pts sounds like a lot. But when you consider serving size and compare to other pizzas, you’re getting a lot more bang for your points with this pizza. Just one slice of restaurant style pizza is 8 pts and I don’t know about you, but one piece of pizza does not fill me up. Nor can I just eat one slice of pizza with SO MANY MORE SLICES sitting there in front of me. It’s impossible.

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