Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The method to my madness

The whole idea behind the spaghetti and meatballs, was my craving for a meatball sub! The leftover turkey meatballs from the WW Super Easy P'sghetti and Meatballs recipe had time for the flavor to set in over night, and the meatballs were even more scrumptious the next day for my sub at lunch. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, cut the hoagie (I decided to use wheat bread) down the center and stuff with the turkey meatballs and sauce. Sprinkle part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese over the top, and bake for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown. 

The guys at Firehouse Subs really inspired me to try this recipe after hearing several commercials over the radio about them ranting over their meatball sub. Instead of caving in and going completely off track, I made a healthier choice by turning to Weight Watchers to create my own meatballs for this sub. I saved myself from a higher amount of calorie, sodium, and saturated fats intake. 

Many corporate restaurants are now including nutritional information about what their serving on their websites. If you know ahead where you're going to eat out, and don't want to wreck all your hard work on one meal out, you can try making healthier decisions by looking up this information beforehand. Doing this will keep you from having to browse the menu and fall into the temptation of ordering something not as good for you. Follow this link to see Firehouse Subs nutritional information chart.

Monday, October 29, 2012

WW Super Easy P'sghetti and Meatballs

This recipe had two of my favorite words in the title, super and easy! There was no passing this one up. Spaghetti is a classic Italian dish that generally makes for an easy weeknight meal. The majority of the reviews gave this recipe a great rating. One member on the website even said, "This is a delicious, easy to prepare dish. I love the fact that the meatballs can be cooked in the oven. I like it even better that they can be made in advance and stored in the freezer. The taste is excellent. Love it!"

Although this dish was a little higher on the Weight Watchers PointsPlus Value scale, I've been learning how to keep track of my points and balance the point system a little easier. I'm proud to say after about three weeks of steadily using the mobile app, I've been able to track my weight and I'm down 6.6 pounds!

I modified this recipe by choosing to use lean ground turkey for the meatballs instead of the lean ground beef which the recipe called for, only because we were already planning on having red meat later in the week. To make this an even easier recipe, the website suggests baking a batch of these meatballs over the weekend for a quick weeknight supper the whole family will love.


  • 1 lb uncooked lean ground beef (or turkey)
  • 1/4 cup dried plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 lb uncooked whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 24 oz bottled reduced-fat pasta sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh bail, chopped

10 PointsPlus Value
4 1/2 stars out of 5
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 15 min
Serves: 6

To begin, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or line with aluminum foil lightly coated with cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine beef (or turkey), breadcrumbs, cheese, egg, Italian seasoning and salt. Roll into about 30 1 1/4- inch meatballs and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake until cooked through, shaking pan every 5 minutes for even browning, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Cook spaghetti according to package and pour sauce into a large saucepan over medium-low heat to warm while the meatballs are baking.

When ready to eat, toss meatballs with sauce and serve over spaghetti; garnish with basil. Yields about 5 meatballs and 1 cup spaghetti with sauce per serving. 

The Super Easy P'sghetti and Meatballs pairs well with a delicious bottle of Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon or obviously Killians for the non winos :) Enjoy!

WW pork chops

Weight Watchers Online is really beginning to click for me! Since my first post about joining Weight Watchers I've downloaded the mobile app, which I've been taking full advantage of, and have been experimenting with the featured recipes section.

The first meal I prepared was surprisingly simple, yet delicious and budget friendly. Coming in with a total of 6 PointsPlus value points, we are featuring the One-Pan Pork Chops with Fennel, Onion, and Apple. You can't beat the ease of this one-pan recipe which garnered a 4 out of 5 star review. The website even suggests trying it with pears and chicken another time.

When picking up the ingredients for this recipe, I wasn't able to find fennel bulbs which this recipe called for. Instead, I went with an unexpected craving and swapped out the fennel for brussel sprouts without having to change anything else for the recipe.

The brussel sprouts looked so appealing at the farmers market, and later I read brussel sprouts flourish in cooler weather which definitely gave these cabbage like greens their appeal factor. Sprouts are high in protein and fiber, they help lower cholesterol, and in recent research, sprouts were found to contain glucosinolates which are phytonutrients that are chemical starting points for a variety of cancer-protective substances.

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 30 min
Difficulty level: Easy

Ingredients according to Weight Watchers:
  • 1 large uncooked red onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 medium fresh apple, cored and cut into thick slices
  • 1 medium uncooked fennel bulb, cut into 1/2" thick slices
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic herb seasoning, or steak seasoning
  • 1 lb uncooked lean boneless pork chop(s)
  • 1/8 tsp table salt and black pepper, or to taste
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, combine onion, apple, fennel (or brussel sprouts), oil and seasoning; toss to coat and spread out on a large nonstick baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, season pork to taste with salt and pepper.
  • After vegetable mixture has cooked for 15 minutes, remove pan from oven and toss.
  • Move vegetable mixture to sides of pan and add pork to middle of pan.
  • Bake until pork is cooked through and vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Yields 1 pork chop and about 3/4 cup vegetable mixture per serving.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


While strolling down the dairy aisle, I can't help but notice the prime real estate that yogurt seems to have taken over. I would definitely agree there has been a "yogurt phenomenon". Many people are substituting heavy creams and cheeses for the creamy, tangy goodness of yogurt.

Yogurt adds nutritional goodness, a distinctive taste, creamy texture, and wonderful moistness to your cooking. The possibilities range from simple combinations of yogurt and fruit to dishes made with Greek yogurt or homemade yogurt cheese.

Yogurt has many health benefits including probiotics which are living organisms found in yogurt, and helps your digestive tract with the "good" bacteria. According to WebMD, yogurt may help prevent osteoporosis, reduce the risk of high blood pressure, yogurt containing active cultures may help certain gastrointestinal conditions, may discourage vaginal infections, and will help you stay more full for a longer period of time.

Next time you find yourself reaching for the chips and dip, reconsider your decision and go for some fruit to dip in yogurt instead. You can make the perfect snack by pairing high-protein yogurt with a high-fiber food like fruit and/or a high fiber breakfast cereal to add to your yogurt.

If you want to customize your own flavored yogurt, start with your favorite plain yogurt and stir in all sorts of foods and flavors. Here are a few ideas:

  • Add chopped strawberries (1/4 cup) and 1/8 tsp of vanilla extract to 6 ounces of plain yogurt to make Strawberries and Cream Yogurt.
  • Add canned crushed pineapple (1/8 cup) and a tbsp of flaked or shredded coconut to 6 ounces of plain yogurt to make Pina Colada Yogurt. 
  • Add 1 tbsp of cool espresso or extra-strong coffee and 1 tbsp of chocolate syrup to 6 ounces of plain yogurt to make Mochaccino Yogurt.
  • Add 1/4 cup chopped orange segments or mandarin oranges and 1 tbsp reduced-sugar orange marmalade to 6 ounces of plain yogurt to make Orange Julius Yogurt.

One of my favorite fruits are strawberries. For dessert tonight and snacks for tomorrow, I decided to create FRO-Yo Strawberries! I also decided to make FRO-Yo Dip'n Dots. Can't wait to give these a try...

Shake what your momma gave you!

A couple of weeks ago, my mom introduced me to ViSalus Vi-Shape nutritional shake mix that is geared toward weight management and healthy nutrition. Shortly after seeing and hearing about her transformation with ViSalus, I purchased my first Shape-Up kit. ViSalus provides options for five varieties of challenge kits: athletic performance, transformation, core, shape, and balance kits.

These shakes aren't your traditional dieting drinks found in your local supermarket like Slim-Fast, or those Special K shakes that leave a bad taste in your mouth. You can actually tailor these to your tastes preferences by adding in your favorite fruits, or try giving your Vi-Shape shake a burst of flavor and a nutritional boost with Shape-Up health flavor mix-ins.

Choose from Strawberry Phyto Power, Banana Energy Charge, Peach Complexion Mix, Orange Everyday Defense and Chocolate Cardia Care. These awesome mix-ins are super-concentrated with vitamins and extracts. Get creative and mix-and-match for custom shake flavor combos, or add them into your oatmeal, cottage cheese, frozen yogurt or other of your favorite foods and drinks.

Combine 2 scoops of protein
2 ice cubes
Top with fruit
Fill with unsweetened soy milk

For the past two weeks I've been replacing breakfast with these tasty protein shakes, and can really feel the difference. Between the extra vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber packed into these shakes I have been receiving healthy energy and hydration, to help my body fight fatigue while staying energized. Additionally, I'm also getting optimal support for heart health, cognitive function, and joint health. The nutritional support also helps curb my hunger, and burn fat. These shakes are the perfect breakfast after a morning run!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Shop local and SAVE BIG!

If you haven't heard yet, buying fresh fruits and vegetables locally is the in thing to do. You have probably been told  at least once you should be buying locally grown produce. Chances are, you probably have even been seeing local farmers markets (like the one in the picture below) sprouting up around your neighborhood! But why should you buy local? What's the benefit to you, your community, and the environment? For starters, here are a few reasons to dump the big-name grocery stores, and stick to your local farmers markets:

1. Local food is cheaper.
   According to How Stuff Works, buying local can save you money with fewer hands that are involved. Unlike chain supermarkets, the farmer doesn't have to split up the profits between the packer, the transporter, and the store employees. The savings goes right back into the consumers pocket.

Today, I hopped on the long-board and took a quick ride up to the local farmers market, and picked up all these fruits and vegetables for a whopping $10.61! Not only did I save on a good deal, but look at the vibrant colors on the tomato, bell pepper, and mango- that's when you know they're going to be deliciously full of nutrients.

2. Locally grown food tastes better and is more nutritious.
    Once harvested, produce quickly loses nutrients. Produce that is flash-frozen just after harvest is often more nutritious than "fresh" produce that's on the supermarket shelf for a week. Since local produce is sold right after it's picked, it retains more nutrients. When local produce is picked in the last couple of days, it makes for crisp and flavorful fruits and veggies. Produce that travels long distances are days older, which allows the sugars to turn to starches, plant cells to shrink, and produce loses it's vitality and flavor.

3. Buying local boosts the economy.
    Buying local is more than just a feel-good notion. Many communities around the nation and the world are increasingly dependent upon consumers buying local. When that happens, "those purchases are twice as efficient in terms of keeping the local economy alive," according to an interview with David Boyle, author and researcher for NEF (New Economics Foundation) in an article in Times magazine.It's no wonder why farming is becoming a vanishing occupation- it can't be easy making a living which requires so much overhead cost when you're getting less than 10 cents to every retail food dollar. By buying locally, the middleman disappears and the farmer gets full retail price, in turn helping farmers to continue farming.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Orange you hungry?

Last week, we were able to make time for so many other, more important things on our ever expanding to-do list without having to worry about dinner plans. I must say we were definitely on top of our 'A' game preparing for our weekly freezer to crockpot cooking. We prepared five meals, but only had a couple of hectic days last week where we actually needed to turn to the crockpot method.

Tuesdays are my longest days, usually beginning with homework in the mornings, followed by a full 8 hours on campus going from class to library. By the time I arrive home at almost 10 p.m., the last thing I want to do is cook. This past Tuesday, I threw one of the prepackaged meals in the crockpot sometime in the morning and let it cook all day. The cleanup was as easy as preparing dinner- using the crockpot eliminates mounds of pots, pans, and other cooking utensils. Some readers may suggest this is a lazy way of cooking, and I would reply that this isn't lazy, it's smart and revolutionary! Why work harder, when you can work smarter?

Spending a couple hours one afternoon grocery shopping and prepping the food, allowed me more time for studying, wedding planning, and for quality time with family and friends. On top of that, we still have three nights of dinner in the freezer! What has been so great about all of this, is that the other half is actually getting involved with all the cooking I have been doing. He usually likes being in the kitchen anyway, so cooking together has always been something we love to do.

Not only were these meals so helpful in keeping me organized, but my Fiance agreed that these mouth-watering recipes definitely made the list of favorites into our personal cookbook. The first recipe we put to the test was packed with vitamin C; we cooked up some juicy Orange Chicken.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 4-6 hours on low
Difficulty: Easy
Serves 2

In the bag: Combine 1/2 green pepper, 1/2 onion, 1/2 red pepper, 1-1/2 cups carrots, 2 trimmed boneless skinless chicken breasts, 2 cloves chopped garlic, salt & pepper (to taste).

To cook: Add bagged ingredients to crockpot. Then add 1/2 cup orange juice, and 1/2 cup of water. Cook with fresh orange, halved. Can serve over rice, or with fresh stir fry veggies as a side. 

We served our take of Orange Chicken with a house side salad that included a variety of unsalted nuts, fresh mushrooms, tomatoes, and a light italian dressing.

Hope you enjoy as much as we did!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Modified Breakfast Cookies

Last week I posted about finding the recipe for Peanut Butter Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies. These healthy little "cookies" turned out to be surprisingly better than the expectation I had for them! I'm a huge fan of peanut butter cookies, my other half, however, is not. In an attempt to keep him happy, I decided to exchange the peanut butter for Nutella, whey protein for soy protein, and I also added raisins to the ingredients.

Benefits of raisins:
After doing a little research for adding something that could boost my energy level, I came across this helpful website dedicated to raisins. The natural sugars of raisins are a great source of energy, and they also contain potassium to help maintain proper blood pressure. Tartaric acid is found in raisins and benefits colon health. This acid works together with fiber to help maintain elimination for digestive health. Who knew raisins could be packed with so many health benefits!

Benefits of adding soy/whey protein:
If you're trying to decide if soy or whey protein is more efficient for you in your diet/exercise goals, first consider what you're trying to accomplish with your specific diet plan. If your goal is to bulk up and gain muscle, then try incorporating the right amount of whey protein according to your exercise levels. Soy protein is used more when your diet and exercise goal is to slim down and obtain leaner muscle. According to Top Form Nutrition Supplement, soy protein comes from soybeans, while whey protein comes from milk as a diluted by-product of the cheese making process.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 16


  • 2 whole ripe bananas, mashed until creamy
  • 1/3 cup Nutella
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup vanilla soy protein powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cup quick oatmeal, uncooked (I used maple and brown sugar)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans (or whatever nut you desire)
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Preparation Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine mashed banana and Nutella until completely combined.
  3. Add in the applesauce, vanilla protein powder and vanilla extract; mix again until completely combined.
  4. Add in the oatmeal, pecans, and raisins to the banana mixture and combine. If you want the chocolate chips mixed in, now would be the time to do so.
  5. Let "dough" rest for 10 minutes
  6. Drop cookie dough by spoonfuls, and if you want the chocolate chips on top of the cookie, press them into the cookie now.
  7. Bake cookies for 35 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
  8. After letting the cookies cool, serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Crossing the Finish Line

All the preparation of eating healthier, and daily cardio I have been doing is leading up to this... I'm finally signing up for my first 5k, and I could not be more excited about it! With the exception of the month of September, I have been regularly rotating my mornings with either an hour run or an hour walk since my engagement in November, and I actually have been able to keep off 8 pounds since. Somehow, September flew right by me without sticking to regular exercise. Although, I have been staying on track with healthier eating habits, so as long as I get back into my work out routine, I should be fine to run the race in December.

Since it's the beginning of a new month, I've decided to find the time again around school and work to get back into the right mind frame of no excuses, and just making the time to incorporate daily exercise. Especially since my good friend just invited me to join her in December for this race to be held at the beautiful Lake Louisa State Park in Clermont, Fl, close to where she lives.

This course isn't your typical Florida flat-ground run. No, Clermont is surrounded by rolling hills. Which is sure to make this course just a tad bit more difficult. The course I will be registering to run includes 3.1 miles of rolling hills, paved roads, and trail running. For the more experienced runners, you also have the option to run a 10k or a half marathon. Since this is my first run, I will be starting with the 5k, and maybe one day soon I'll be able to work up to the half marathon.

Deena Kastor, long-distance Olympic medalist, holds the American record in the marathon and half marathon, and knows a thing or two about race day. Kastor says, "No matter the sport, the best thing you can do to have peace of mind on race day, is to really put the work in with proper training," she continues, "I'm never really nervous because I know I've optimized every day leading up to the race and have the training behind me."

As a first time race participant, of course I'm feeling a little nervous- I think that's probably natural. As a race newbie, stepping up to the starting line can definitely be intimidating. But as long as I stick to my guns, take advantage of the Weight Watchers running for fitness tips and techniques, while taking advice from Deena Kastor and keep training, I'm sure I'll do just fine.

If you're interested in participating in this race you can find more information here regarding registration, pricing, time and date of the race.