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Posts Tagged ‘quick meals’

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I’ve been craving smoothies.  Its spring and its (rarely) sunny and warm here in beautiful Steelers Nation.  Most places I know that sell smoothies make them incredibly unhealthy with lots of sugar, ice cream, or full fat yogurt.  I decided I’d satisfy my craving by making a similar one at home.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie with Greek Yogurt
1 serving, 3 Weight Watchers PointsPlus per serving

5-6 ice cubes (or crushed ice)
6 large strawberries quartered
1 large banana
1/2 C Fage 0% Greek Yogurt
2 tsp Splenda (or another no calorie sweetener)

In a blender (or in a Cuisinart, since my blender is non-functional) add ice.  Run until ice is transformed into a slushy mixture.  Add strawberries and bananas.  Run until fruit is smooth.  Add yogurt and Splenda.  Again, run until smooth.  Serve immediately.

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The past two years my in-laws have made the five-hour trek from our home state out to our current residence of Pittsburgh, PA for one purpose on Easter weekend: The Grand Concourse Sunday Brunch.  If you snicker you have clearly never been to said brunch.

We had found the brunch because it had been on a friend’s “bucket list” of things to do before leaving Pittsburgh (which I am quietly composing in my head as well).  For the non-meat and fish eater, you don’t really get your money’s worth.  But if you eat at least fish it is fantastic.  It is everything awesome about gluttony.  The highlights include fresh donuts, omelette, pancakes, and waffles to order, bananas foster, carving stations with ham, roast beef, etc., lox, different types of fish dishes, and the  list goes on and on.  This year it was just four of us (my brother-in-law and his fiance stayed away this year) but we made the most of it.

The big problem with going to the brunch is that you’re absolutely stuffed until at least 6pm.  This doesn’t make trying to plan an Easter dinner very easy.  What I decided to do was to come up with a antipasto platter and a tomato and mozzarella salad.  I also had some back up appetizers (cocktail shrimp and, if necessary I was planning on whipping up deviled eggs) in case the four of us were hungrier after 6pm than I expected (we weren’t).

Since very little cooking was involved this was a great quick and easy way to feed the family without all the hassle.  I did roast a lot of vegetable a few days earlier so the prep time was more extensive than the actual cooking time.  Also, this let everyone take what they wanted since we were all at different levels of hunger from the brunch earlier in the morning.

Antipasto Platter
(I didn’t calculate the points here because it all depends on the size of your sandwich and exactly what you put on.  Since I was only eating the roasted vegetables I estimated about 1 tsp olive oil for those since I had drizzled it on top after roasting, the PointsPlus for the bread, cheese, and marinated artichokes).

Includes:

Organic Prosciutto
Sweet Capicola
Hot Capicola
Genoa salami
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
Sharp provolone, sliced
Roasted Eggplant (grilled and then sliced and I drizzled some olive oil on it and cooled overnight in an airtight container)
Roasted Red Peppers (grilled, cleaned, and cooled overnight in an airtight container)
Roasted tomatoes (baked at 275 for approximately 3 hours in the oven, drizzled some olive oil on it and cooled overnight in an airtight container)
Roasted portabello mushrooms (grilled, sliced, drizzled some olive oil on it, and cooled overnight in an airtight container)
Roasted long hot peppers (Not pictured) (grilled in a tinfoil pouch until the skins are blackened.  Allow to cool and slice before serving)
Green olives (these came from the supermarket olive bar)
Marinated artichokes (out of a jar, I had no idea where to start with those)
Sun-dried tomatoes (out of a jar, again no idea where to start with that)
Pepperoncini peppers (out of a jar)
Fresh basil

I used a very crusty Tuscan italian loaf from a local bakery.  I was looking for something that would hold up to the liquids produced from the roasted vegetables.  The woman at the bakery had originally suggested a ciabatta bread but I did not think the inside would be dense enough.  Even this denser, crustier bread got a little wet from the vegetables.


Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
(I didn’t calculate the points but 1 oz of the fresh mozzarella according to the eTracker is 2 points and 1/4 tbsp of olive oil, which would be more than a serving, is 1 PointsPlus)

2 containers plum tomatoes, halved
1 container of small fresh mozzarella balls
1/2 cup basil, rinsed and chopped
approx 1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix all together but be careful not to over mix and break apart the tomatoes.

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Now the Weight Watchers aspect of this recipe perplexes me and is the main reason I posted it.  It’s a fairly boring recipe (just a combination of whatever vegetables we had) with some soy sauce and oil.  What makes me go *head tilt* is the points value that the Weight Watchers eTools recipe builder gave to it.  The thing that WW has seemed to drill into my head is that most vegetables do not have any points.  True to form, when I put in the vegetables I used (eggplant, carrots, onions, garlic, broccoli, tomatoes) each was considered to have 0 points.  However, while the soy sauce and oil (which could be reduced I don’t know why I used nearly that much) have a combined points value of 15 points BUT the total points value for the meal (including veggies) was considered to be 24 points….*head tilt*.  This is increasingly puzzling when I figured out that if you enter the proportion of what I put in (i.e., if I put in 1 cup of something, I could enter in 1/5 C for that element) in my daily points tracker the points value came out to 3 PP.

I’m going to ask my leader at our meeting this week to explain this because I don’t understand how 6 vegetables can add 10 points but be 0 points on the line item.  If anyone happens to read this (I know there is at least someone who has to read this….right?…right?…*crickets*) and knows the reason before Thursday when I update please inform me!  My hunch is that it has something do with the recipe builder assuming something about the way it’s cooked and it breaking down the “good” aspects of the vegetables.

EDIT: I spoke with my leader and she told me that I should rely on the tracker not the recipe builder for the points.  She and another leader both said the same thing: the recipe builder calculates the total fiber, carbs, fat, and protein and then calculates the points.  As a result, this may create a higher point value than would be true if you put each part into the tracker.  I guess this means that some of my recipes may have a higher point value attached to them then they really have.

Vegetable Stir Fry
5 servings, 5 WW PointsPlus each serving

1/4 cup vegetable oil (like I said, this can be reduced, I don’t know why I added that much)
1 1/2 tbsp garlic, minced
1/4 of a large onion (approx 1 1/2 C), chopped
1 large eggplant, cubed
1 1/2 C baby carrots, chopped
1 1/2 C water
1 C broccoli
3 tomatoes, cubed
2 tsp Sriracha Chili Sauce
1/3 C low sodium soy sauce

In a wok (or large pan) heat the oil on high.  Add garlic and onions and cook until onions are slightly translucent (make sure garlic doesn’t burn!).  Add eggplant.  Make sure to mix well and continue mixing well until eggplant is fully cooked.  In a liquid measuring cup, I added the chopped carrots and then filled it to the 2 C mark with water (so the water above is just an estimation).  Add to the eggplant mixture.  Add broccoli and mix well.   Add Sriracha and mix well.  Add cubed tomatoes and soy sauce and cook for an addition 3- 4minutes making sure to mix everything well.  Serve over rice.

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This was another thing that I came up with on a whim.  Our refrigerator is lacking at best.  With my birthday last week, my mother visiting from out-of-town this weekend, and B and I going away next weekend there is little desire on my part to actually restock our fridge for an extended period of time.  Due to time considerations, I threw the quesadilla in the microwave for 2 minutes and then put in a pan for about 1-2 minutes on either side just to make it crispier.  This made the tortilla slightly tough and doughy.  In the future, I think I would make a few changes.  First, I will only use 1 tortilla instead of two.  Second, melt the cheese and toast in a pan instead of melting the cheese in the microwave first.  Finally, sprinkle some panko on top of the cheese to give it a bit more crunch.

Jalapeno Popper Quesadillas
1 serving, 8 Weight Watchers PointsPlus per serving

2 whole wheat tortillas
1 oz fat-free cream cheese
1/4 cup Sargento Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese
1/3 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp jalapeno poppers, chopped

Spread the cream cheese across one of the tortillas.  Sprinkle cumin and chopped jalapeno peppers on top of the cream cheese.  Spread cheddar cheese on top.  Top with the other whole wheat tortilla.  Microwave for 1-2 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Put in a large, hot pan for about 1-2  minutes on either side to make the tortilla crispy.  Serve with sour cream and/or salsa.

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B and I have an inside joke where certain dinners are “Jen Special…” dishes.  This is mostly because prior to moving in with B (and even to a certain extent now) there are a few standards I go to.  One of the “Jen Special…” dishes involves some sort of protein, vegetable, and starch with herbs, lemon, and/or garlic.  The past few nights we’ve had curry and Korean take-out so I wanted something boring and, well, one of the “Jen Special…” dishes.  Tonight I made shrimp with broccoli, mushrooms and quinoa.  Most of the PointsPlus come from the quinoa (1 cup = 5 PP and 1/2 cup = 3 PP).  This was also very quick to make; I think it only took about 20 minutes to prepare and cook (which is why its the perfect weekday dish).  Enjoy!

Weekday “Jen Special” Shrimp and Vegetables
6 Weight Watchers PointsPlus per serving (12 total), 2 servings

16 shrimp, thawed and detailed
2 cups broccoli
1 cup mushrooms
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup water (used just to keep a sauce so this is flexible)
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried basil
5 sprays “I can’t believe it’s not butter” spray
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup cooked quinoa

In a large saute pan, add “I can’t believe it’s not butter” spray and olive oil.  Add garlic and onions making sure not to let the garlic burn.  Add mushrooms and saute for 1-2 minutes until the mushrooms are lightly browned.  Add broccoli, vegetable broth, water (as necessary), salt, rosemary, and basil.  Allow to saute/steam for about 4-5 minutes or until liquid has reduced.  Add shrimp and cook for about 1 minute on each side or until the shrimp have reached the pink color necessary for them to be completely cooked.  Serve over quinoa.

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Lately I’ve been craving two things: greasy, oh-so-terribly-bad-for-you nachos (with a huge amount of guacamole) and tuna steaks. Since my Weight Watchers weigh in is tomorrow and I’ve been doing so well (reduced 5% of my weight in 3 weeks) I went with the less amazing alternative – the tuna! I kid, because the tuna I ended up coming up with was actually really delicious.  My point is that nothing compares to those delicious, delicious nachos (I’m saving those (and my extra points) for the Superbowl this weekend).  I served the tuna over spinach and we had a side salad.

Ahi Tuna Steaks with Herb Sauce served over spinach
Serves 2, 6 PointsPlus per serving (13 total)

2 Ahi Tuna steaks (ours came out to about 14 oz.)
1/3 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp herbes de Provence
1/2 tsp garlic salt
8 sprays “I can’t believe it’s not butter” spray
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
8 oz fresh spinach

Add vegetable broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, herbes de provence, garlic salt, 1 tsp olive oil, and 6 sprays of “I can’t believe it’s not butter” spray to a large bowl with the tuna steaks.  Rub the mixture on the tuna.  Add the tuna to a hot griddle or pan.  Cook approximately 2-3 minutes on either side until cooked through.  Once tuna is cooked, add the sauce from the marinade to pan to cook the sauce through.

In a separate pan, add the remaining 1/2 tsp olive oil and 2 sprays of “I can’t believe it’s not butter” spray with 1/3 cup of water.  Add the spinach and saute until spinach has wilted down.

Serve tuna over spinach and spoon sauce on top of the tuna.  I served it with a small lemon wedge but it already had a pretty good lemony taste.

Enjoy!

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This is a healthier version of another dish that we had made in the past.  We were looking to make sure that we were not going crazy with the very “pointy” foods.  We had this as our dinner (about 2-3 servings each) and it was definitely enough.  It would also be great as a starter for another meal.  I was originally thinking of making the soup and having quesadillas or veggie and shrimp fajitas.  For a soup, it was also very quick and easy to put together (I should know; I watched while B cooked it). Enjoy!

Shrimp, Scallops, and Corn Tortilla Soup
7 servings (1 cup), 4 PointsPlus per serving (31 total)

2 tsp vegetable oil
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
14 1/2 oz. diced tomatoes (canned), drained
3 cups vegetable broth
8 oz.  canned clam juice
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 lb. shrimp
1/2 lb. bay scallops
14 tortilla chips (2 per serving)

Add 2 teaspoons oil to pan. Add bell pepper, cumin, oregano, garlic, jalapeno peppers, and tomatoes; sauté 4 minutes. Stir in broth and clam juice; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Add corn, scallops (thawed), shrimp (thawed); cook 3 minutes or until shrimp are done. Remove from heat; stir in scallions, cilantro, lime juice, and black pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Crumble two tortilla chips over each serving.

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