Friday, September 30, 2011

Pizza Burgers a la HG

Per Serving (1/4th of recipe, 1 patty with cheese and sauce): 5 Points+
223 calories, 7g fat, 559mg sodium, 9g carbs, 1.5g fiber, 5g sugars, 31g protein

The recipe: "300 under 300", pages 266 - 267

Growing up, two of my favorite nights were hamburger night and steak and potato night.  I was a big red meat eater when I was much younger.  Then, in high school, I decided I would no longer eat red meat anymore - at the time mostly for environmental reasons.  I even became a vegetarian for over five years in college and beyond.  Now, I eat plenty of meat, except for pork and beef - mostly for health reasons.

This recipe calls for lean ground beef, so I substituted lean ground turkey.  Surprisingly, the nutritional stats are nearly identical for ground beef and turkey - as long as you get the same percentage of fat.  Ground beef that is 3% fat has similar nutritional stats as ground turkey with 3% fat.  It is all about flavor preference in most cases.  For me, it has been so long since I have had beef, that I figure I might as well just use alternatives since I am used to the taste anyway.  My husband is also used to me using ground turkey, and didn't even think anything of me using turkey instead of beef for these.

Well, enough rambling about my meat preferences.  These burgers turned out pretty good.  I have seen italian-style burgers on menus before, but I have never actually tried one myself.  An interesting and delicious spin on a traditional burger.  I liked that I didn't have to add a bunch of condiments after making these, since the flavors in the recipe were plenty for the burger.  I ate mine on a leaf of romaine lettuce to save calories, while my son and husband ate theirs on sandwich thin buns.  Everyone was happy with dinner tonight - a definite plus! 

I also liked how the recipe called for actual pizza sauce instead of crushed tomatoes.  HG uses crushed tomatoes quite frequently in recipes that call for red sauce, and I find that it is sometimes lacking in flavor.  Pizza sauce is pretty low in calories and has a good flavor already.  Overall, this was a good burger that I would definitely consider making again. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Neat-O Chili-Frito Burrito

Per Serving (entire recipe): 6 Points+
248 calories, 5.75g fat, 790mg sodium, 39g carbs, 8.5g fiber, 3.5g sugars, 15.5g protein

The recipe: "300 under 300", page 351

I generally don't buy unhealthy snacks, but occasionally my husband does (annoying!).  Not only is it challenging having junk food in the house, but he usually forgets it is even there, and it will sit there in the cupboards for weeks on end torturing me.  This is the case with the bag of Fritos that has been in our cupboard for the past couple of months unopened.  Fortunately, I am not much of a fan of Fritos, but with chili, they are pretty tasty.  I found this recipe and decided it was time to open the bag and remind my husband that it was there.

This burrito turned out small, but really good.  I liked the crunch of the Fritos in the burrito, as well as the taste of the cheesy chili.  If it wasn't so many calories, I would have definitely eaten two of these.  My husband also thought they were delicious.  So delicious, that he ate four of them for dinner (he is obviously not counting calories!).  I made a salad to go with mine, and was perfectly happy with my dinner.  The only problem is, now we have an OPEN bag of Fritos in the house - even more dangerous than a closed bag!  I will probably just end up tossing it after I am sure he has forgotten about it again.

I used vegetarian Hormel chili for this recipe, although you can also use turkey chili for about the same amount of calories.  These burritos were very quick and easy to make - a definite plus.  Just heat up a can of chili, add chili, shredded fat-free cheddar cheese, Fritos, and diced onion in a tortilla, and there is your burrito.  If you heat the chili in the microwave, you don't even need to get a pan dirty.  Yeah!

If you plan on making this recipe, try to get the 100-calorie packs of Fritos.  According to the HG book, they do exist, which is probably a better idea than having an open back of chips in the cupboard.  If you have the willpower, though, by all means buy a whole bag.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In-N-Outrageous Animal-Style Salad

Per Serving (entire recipe): 6 Points+
270 calories, 4.25g fat, 1,032mg sodium, 39.5g carbs, 11.75g fiber, 17.5g sugars, 21g protein 

The recipe: "300 under 300", page 128

If you are not from the West Coast, then you may not have heard of the fast food chain In-N-Out before.  Let me tell you, they make the best burgers, fries, and shakes.  Yum!  Unfortunately, In-N-Out isn't really diet-friendly, so as a general rule of thumb I avoid it completely.  This salad has the flavors of an In-N-Out burger, but with much less calories, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

While this didn't do much to satisfy my cravings for In-N-Out, it was still a good salad.  It was nice and large, and had plenty of flavor in it with not many calories.  And with an entire Boca burger patty on it, this salad was also pretty filling.  I liked that it had grilled onions on it as well, and the combination of cooked onions and burger patty with the cold salad reminded me of a restaurant-style salad.  I had fun layering all of the ingredients, but even more fun eating them!  The best part was that it was large and took quite some time to eat it.  I felt as though I had eaten a huge dinner afterward just from all the chewing!  I would recommend this salad if you are looking for something flavorful and different from your ordinary salad.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Top Banana Bread

Per Serving (1/8 of loaf): 4 Points+
140 calories, 0.5g fat, 267mg sodium, 31g carbs, 3.75g fiber, 7g sugars, 5g protein

The recipe: 

Our air conditioner broke last Thursday (and has yet to be fixed!), so it has been VERY hot in our house for the past several days.  We are doing our best to keep everything cool with fans and a portable swamp cooler, but there's only so much we can do with it being in the high 90's outside.  That being said, my bananas went from being barely ripe at all to being overripe and brown within two days time.  I had 8 bananas that I had to figure out what to do with.  Time to make some more banana bread!

This time I tried out HG's more standard banana bread, which I enjoyed just about as much as I did the Banana Split Bread that I made not too long ago.  This recipe was similar to the Banana Split Bread, just without the strawberry filling and chocolate chips.  It was also made with mostly whole wheat flour, which gave it a hearty, dense feel to it.  Using the whole wheat flour also makes it more filling, so I am able to make it through the morning with just a slice of banana bread and a piece of fruit for breakfast.   

I did have to cook the banana bread in my toaster oven this time, though.  I was not about to heat up the house any more by using the oven!  It was still nice and moist, but the top came out a little darker than I had anticipated.  I was just glad it came out good at all, since the toaster oven usually bakes everything a little too hot. 

So, if you have ripe bananas that you need to use up, either this recipe or the banana split bread recipe are good options.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Holy Moly Cannoli Cones

Per Serving (1 cannoli cone): 3 Points+
134 calories, 1.75g fat, 184mg sodium, 21g carbs, 0g fiber, 10.5g sugars, 6g protein 

The recipe: "Hungry Girl 1-2-3", pages 258 - 259

Let me start this post by saying that I have never had a cannoli before, so my review is not going to be based on a comparison of what a true cannoli tastes like.  All I know about cannolis is that they use ricotta cheese in them, which has always sounded kind of weird to me considering it is a dessert.  But, everyone always seems to rave about them, so this recipe intrigued me.  

My favorite part about this recipe was the way that it is eaten.  I love the fact that you get to eat it in a sugar cone, which is not only fun, but tasty as well.  It reminded me of eating an ice cream cone as a kid, before I cared how many calories anything was.  

The cannoli filling was just okay to me.  Again, I have nothing to compare it to, but it just wasn't that exciting to me.  I did like the chocolate chips in it, but felt that there could have been a little more in the recipe.  I think the problem that I had was that I was expecting a very sweet dessert, it being in a sugar cone and everything, but it wasn't as sweet as I had hoped.

The other problem I had was that the filling made enough for 6 of these cones.  Since I was the only one eating them, I wasn't sure what to do with the rest of the filling.  I ended up double-bagging the filling, with plans to eat another one tonight.  I'm not sure how long it will stay good for past that, though.  If you plan on making these, make sure you have a couple people to share them with.  

Overall, a fun idea, but I'm not sure if I will be making these again.  I think they are worth trying, though.  Now I am curious what a true cannoli tastes like!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bake-tastic Butternut Squash Fries

Per Serving (½ of recipe): 0 Points+
125 calories, <0.5g fat, 158mg sodium, 33g carbs, 3g fiber, 6g sugars, 3g protein

The recipe: "Hungry Girl Recipes and Survival Strategies...", pages 100 - 101

I FINALLY used the rest of my butternut squash that has been sitting in my fridge from when I made HG's Dreamy Butternut Chicken Foil Pack a while back.  I've been curious about this recipe for a very long time, but have never tried butternut squash up until now.  I really didn't think this would be a truly good substitution for fries.  After all, it IS squash and not any form of potato.

I had a pretty difficult time cutting the butternut squash up.  I even microwaved it for two minutes to soften it up a little, as the cookbook suggests.  It is just a very hard squash, which makes it a challenge to cut up into cubes, fry shapes, whatever.  I powered through, though, and cut mine up into fairly thin french fry shapes.  I would recommend making yours larger than what I did.  They do shrink just a tad when cooked, and they stuck a little bit to the foil I was cooking them on.  You are supposed to flip these halfway through cooking, but mine were already sticking by that point.  I ended up losing parts of my small "fries" because they were stuck to the foil. 

So, my two suggestions for this recipe are to make your fries bigger than skinny fast food-size fries, and to use plenty of non-stick spray on the pan or foil you are cooking them on.  Once cooked, these came out delicious.  They reminded me a lot of sweet potato fries.  These had a slightly sweet taste to them, and almost tasted caramelized.  Everyone in my family liked these, and the best part was they were eating squash!  The texture was surprisingly similar to french fries as well.  I had a few of mine with ketchup, but they were actually just fine on their own with no dip.

Next time I am craving french fries, I will definitely be making these.  Even though they taste more like sweet potato fries, they should still satisfy my cravings.  I think butternut squash is my new friend!  First the Dreamy Butternut Chicken dish, and now these "french fries".  Who knew?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fiesta-Time Chicken Flautas

Per Serving (1/2 of recipe, 2 flautas): 4 Points+
188 calories, 2g fat, 556mg sodium, 24.5g carbs, 3g fiber, 4g sugars, 17g protein

The recipe:

One of my favorite recipes is Hungry Girl's Exploding Taquitos, and since I enjoyed those so much, I figured this recipe might be even better.  Instead of canned chicken, it uses chopped up grilled chicken breast.  It also uses spices such as cayenne pepper and cumin, instead of pre-packaged taco seasoning.  I usually prefer to use fresh items instead of canned.

I cheated a little again and used the precooked packaged chicken breast from the deli section at Costco.  Not exactly freshly cooked chicken, but still much better than canned.  I am becoming a little obsessed with that chicken, by the way.  It makes it so easy to make a huge salad and add 3 ounces of chicken breast for protein (and only 110 calories!).

These flautas turned out very yummy.  And they didn't explode like the Exploding Taquitos did!  I'm not sure why they are called flautas, though, since I always thought flautas were made with flour tortillas, and taquitos were made with corn tortillas.  Whatever.  These were good nonetheless.  They had a nice amount of spiciness to them from the cayenne pepper, but not so much where it was overpowering.  I really liked the spices on the chicken, and everything tasted great together.  I dipped mine in salsa for even more flavor.  Yum!

Since I am now getting used to counting calories instead of tracking points, I couldn't eat very many of these for dinner to stay within my alloted calories.  I had three flautas and also made a salad.  Later, I went running for 30 minutes on the treadmill (I only have time to run at 9pm at night), and I woke up VERY hungry in the morning.  Perhaps not enough food for dinner!  These make a perfect appetizer, but for a meal, you would definitely have to eat more than just two.  My husband ate 5, with sour cream and salsa as a dip, plus a salad, and said he was plenty full. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Method = New Results?

I was just looking at my weigh-in history the other day, and couldn't believe that I have been in the upper 150's for about 6 months now.  It's to the point where I am actually embarrassed about my lack of weight loss, and did some hard thinking over the weekend about what I can do to fix it.  I came to realize that I might have to sever my relationship with Weight Watchers, which has always been my go-to weight loss strategy.  Particularly since I stopped breast feeding and my points went from 43 down to 29, I have had little to no success at losing the weight.  The reduction in points was a difficult adjustment, so I have been compensating by eating what is probably way too much fruit. 

I do have to admit that there have been a couple of weekends where I might have gone a little bit off plan.  Usually, though, I would still stay within my weekly points target.  Given the fact that I don't use my weekly points during the week, it technically shouldn't make any difference if I use them all at once over the weekend or not.  The scale has showed otherwise, though.  I am also frustrated by the new points system because of the fact that you have to plug in four data points just to get the points plus value for the food.  I think I just need something more simple.

After much thought, I decided I needed to get back to the basics.  I am going to go back to counting calories, plain and simple.  When I first came to this decision, I was a little weary about saying goodbye to my long-time friend, WeightWatchers.  But, then a feeling of relief came over me.  No more looking at food labels several times to get all the necessary data to input points values.  No more trying to find bread that has enough fiber to be 2 points instead of 3.  If something is 100 calories, then I take away 100 calories from my daily alloted amount.  Simple, right?

Now, don't get me wrong.  I know it is important to look at the rest of the nutritional information to make sure it is high fiber, low fat, and all that good stuff.  I'm not going to start eating junk just because I am focusing mostly on calories.  I just need a new method to help me get back to being excited about losing weight again.

I decided to go to my phone for some additional help.  I know I am going to have to track everything I eat, since counting calories is a little more difficult to keep track of than points.  For example, if I have eaten 678 calories so far, that is a little more difficult to remember than say, 10 points plus.  I have an Android phone, and there are several apps on it that help you count calories.  I decided to try out, since I know a couple of other bloggers who use it and really like it.  The best part about the phone app is you can use a barcode scanner to scan in any food with a barcode.  It will then input it into your food journal with all of the nutritional information.  Nice!  That alone is enough to get me excited about using a new plan.  It's like having a new gadget or toy to play with.  Yeah! 

My favorite motivational quote!
According to myfitnesspal, I should be eating 1200 calories a day if I want to lose 2 pounds each week.  If I exercise, I get more calories.  Yesterday, I tried out counting my calories, and went over by 54 calories.  Not too bad, considering I wasn't sure at that point how much I was supposed to be eating.  Now I am logged into the program, I have the application downloaded onto my phone, and am ready to go.  I have been using my treadmill to jog (5mph) for 30-40 minutes every other day, which should help me lose the weight as well. 

I really hope this is it.  The final time I will have to lose this weight.  I am not planning on having any more children, so I will never have to lose the baby weight again.  I just want to get into the low 140's and stay there.  Previously, I never allowed myself to go above 145 pounds.  I want to get back into that mindset again.  I'm not that far off - I just need a final push in the right direction.  Hopefully this change is what I need.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cool 'n Creamy Fruit Soup

Per Serving (½ recipe, about 1 cup): 3 Points+
115 calories, <0.5g fat, 57mg sodium, 19g carbs, 1g fiber, 13.5g sugars, 8.5g protein

The recipe: "Hungry Girl 1-2-3", page 197

Why this isn't just called a smoothie is beyond me.  I find it very strange that Hungry Girl recommends eating this as a "soup", when in reality it is just a smoothie.  I put mine in a bowl for the picture, but after a few spoonfuls, I felt foolish and just put it in a glass.  I shared the other serving with my two-year-old (in a cup!), and he enjoyed drinking it. 

I, on the other hand, didn't finish my serving.  I wasn't all that impressed with the flavor, and I know I can make a better tasting smoothie than this one.  This smoothie had a slightly tangy taste because of the grapefruit, but combined with strawberries and yogurt, it gave the smoothie an odd taste.  For the grapefruit, I cheated a little and used a jar of already peeled and sliced grapefruit in juice, even though we already had fresh grapefruit at home.  It was just easier - so sue me! :)  I also used Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze instead of vanilla soymilk.  It generally has less calories than soymilk, and I like the flavor better.  However, I don't think these two minor changes would make the flavor much different.

I will not be making this again.  To me, it didn't have that great of a flavor, and there are much better alternatives out there for smoothies - I mean, "fruit soup".

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Great Greek Pizza

Per Serving (entire recipe): 6 Points+
277 calories, 4.75g fat, 990mg sodium, 38g carbs, 8.5g fiber, 4.5g sugars, 19g protein 

The recipe: "300 under 300", pages 268 - 269

I'm always looking for a substitute for pizza, especially since pizza is usually so fattening.  This recipe consisted of a mini pizza for only six points.  A pretty good deal!  This pizza was easy to make and very tasty.  Just mix spinach, feta, and garlic together, place crushed tomatoes, the spinach mixture and other toppings on a whole wheat pita, and bake in the oven for a few minutes.  

I made two of these so my husband could try one also.  He said that "the Greek don't know how to make pizza, apparently".  Whatever!  I loved this pizza and would definitely make it again.  It is more of a lunch-size portion, but I just added a salad and it became enough for my dinner.  

I loved the spinach-feta mixture on the pizza, which went well with the other toppings.  I happen to like a less traditional pizza, so I thought this was very good.  The pita made a nice "crust" - one that I would never have thought of using.  If you like Greek-style pizza, you will definitely like this recipe.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Turkey Mushroom Surprise

Per Serving (1 heaping cup): 5 Points+
226 calories, 8.5g fat, 670mg sodium, 10.5g carbs, 1g fiber, 2.5g sugars, 27.5g protein

The recipe: "Hungry Girl 1-2-3", page 181

I love crock pot recipes, but for some reason I don't make them as often as I probably should.  They are so easy and convenient - just throw a bunch of ingredients into the crock pot, turn it on, and several hours later dinner is ready.  

I live very close to my work, so I went home for lunch to put this crock pot recipe together so it would be ready by dinner time.  This was a very simple recipe.  Ground turkey, a ton of mushrooms, an onion, and a jar of gravy was all that had to be put into the crock pot.  It did take me a while to slice all the mushrooms (the recipe called for 5 cups!) and the onion, though.  My sister always says I am a very slow cook.  I have never figured out any sort of technique for dicing and slicing very quickly, like you see the chefs on TV doing.  Thankfully, I enjoy cooking, so I never really feel in a hurry anyway.  

The final step to this recipe is to add a little onion soup mix and cornstarch a few minutes before serving.  This recipe tasted a lot like beef stroganoff, but with turkey instead of beef.  It had a great flavor to it, but the meat came out a little mushy from being cooked in the crock pot (I think).  My husband said the meat was broken up into too small of pieces.  Considering I really didn't stir this that much, I was surprised it came out that way.  It didn't bother me, but my husband kept saying it had a "gritty" texture.  

This dish definitely needs to be served on top of something.  Since it was a lot like beef stroganoff, I made fettucine noodles for my husband to eat with it.  For myself, I steamed some broccoli and cauliflower and poured my serving over that.  If you compare the two pictures, you can see how much more food it was just by adding vegetables.  It made a very flavorful and filling meal.  I'm not sure if I will make this again, though - mainly just because of the texture.  It might possibly be better if cooked over the stove, instead of being cooked for hours in a crock pot.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Banana Split Bread

Per Serving (1/8th of recipe, 1 thick slice): 4 Points+
169 calories, 1.5g fat, 267mg sodium, 35.5g carbs, 3.75g fiber, 13g sugars, 5g protein

The recipe: "300 under 300", pages 116 - 117

Over the weekend, I noticed that we had several bananas that were way too ripe to eat, so I went to my trusty HG cookbooks to see if there was a banana bread recipe.  This one sounded delicious (with banana split in the title, how could I resist?), and I was excited to try a new banana bread other than the standard one I usually make.  I had to go to the store to buy unsweetened applesauce, sugar free strawberry preserves, and whole wheat flour - a little more work, since I had all the ingredients on hand for my usual recipe.  Was it worth it?  Yes!

The only drawback to making this version is that my husband does not like chocolate chips in his banana bread.  This means I won't be having any help from him with eating this.  With 8 servings, I will be eating banana bread for breakfast for quite some time!  Luckily, I love it.  It came out moist and dense, so even though one slice of banana bread doesn't seem like a lot for breakfast, this actually has filled me up nicely for breakfast for the past couple of mornings.  I eat a slice with a piece of fruit and I am good until my morning snack (another piece of fruit). 

The recipe calls for a cup and a half of mashed bananas, which the cookbook says is equivalent to about four bananas.  I only ended up using three bananas, since they were all pretty large.  So, if you have large bananas, you will probably only need three of them. 

Another note about the banana bread - because it uses mostly whole wheat flour, it does have a different texture than if you use white flour.  I actually like the denser, sort of chewy texture that whole grains give baked goods.  If you are opposed to it, you can always use white flour instead.  Overall, I give this recipe a thumbs up! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Totally Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups

Per Serving (entire recipe - 3 lettuce cups): 5 Points+
227 calories, 4.5g fat, 875mg sodium, 21g carbs, 3g fiber, 12.5g sugars, 23g protein

The recipe: "Hungry Girl 1-2-3", pages 20 - 21

It is a good thing that I didn't listen to my husband's protests over me making this dish.  After claiming that he doesn't like most Thai food, nor does he like peanut sauce, I still made this anyway since I love both of those things.  Sorry, dear!  After I tried the first lettuce cup and said how good it was, my husband decided that maybe he would try one after all.  Three lettuce cups later (a whole serving, in other words), and I was glad I had doubled the recipe.  He said they were actually pretty good - can I say I told you so?

One of my favorite appetizers at the Cheesecake Factory (one of my favorite restaurants that I now avoid like the plague!) is their Thai lettuce wraps.  I have been craving those recently, so when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try them.  These were delicious!  And as far as I can remember, they taste just about as good as any thai lettuce wraps that I have had at a restaurant.  These definitely did the job of satisfying my cravings for this appetizer. 

I do have to admit that I cheated a little bit with the chicken.  I had just picked up a large package of precooked grilled chicken strips from Costco, so I measured out 6 ounces (I doubled the recipe) of those instead of cooking the chicken myself.  I sprinkled the chicken with the garlic powder, heated it in the microwave for 30 seconds, and added the peanut sauce.  Super quick and easy, and I think it still tasted great.  This is not something I usually do, but I was really not in the mood to cook and make a mess last night.

I loved the flavors of the rice vinegar, cilantro, green onion, and Thai peanut sauce together in this dish.  So good!  I was actually so happy with the way the recipe turned out, that I made a salad with the same ingredients for dinner.  I just added more lettuce and a little more rice vinegar for flavor, and topped everything with a little chicken and peanut sauce.  The only unfortunate thing was that I was unable to find a low-fat Thai peanut sauce or dressing at the grocery store.  I looked in both the salad dressing aisle as well as the Asian section, and could only find the higher fat versions.  The best I could find had 80 calories and 3.5g fat for two tablespoons - not the best stats, but worth the extra point for this recipe. 

If you like Thai lettuce wraps as much as I do, then this is a good recipe for you.  Just keep in mind that it is five points for just an appetizer, and this is not enough food to fill you up for an entire meal.

Monday, September 12, 2011

HG's Freezy Downside-Up PB Dream Pie

Per Serving (1/8 of recipe): 4 Points+
159 calories, 6.5g fat, 235mg sodium, 18g carbs, 1g fiber, 8.5g sugars, 7g protein

The recipe:

One of my favorite desserts is peanut butter pie.  My husband's grandmother knew I loved it so much that she used to make me my own personal peanut butter pie to take home every Christmas, while everyone else got to share the other one she would make.  She now knows I am watching my calories, and did not give me a whole pie last year, thankfully.  This recipe appeared in a recent Hungry girl email, and I knew right away that I was going to make it. 

Perhaps most shocking was that according to the email, a standard piece of peanut butter pie is usually 542 calories with 34g fat.  What?!  And I'm pretty sure I would eat more than just a slice of grandma's peanut butter pie at a time.  No wonder I always gained weight during the holidays! 

The HG version was just about as good as a traditional peanut butter pie, but with WAY less calories.  Although it was definitely smaller (regular peanut butter pies are much thicker than this pie was), this pie still did a good job of satisfying my cravings for peanut butter pie.  It was very peanut buttery and creamy, and did not taste low-fat at all.  I am just going to have to be careful to stick with a single slice at a time!  If you are going to make this, make sure you have someone around that will help you consume some of the pie. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

'Bella Asada Fajitas

Per Serving (1/2 of recipe, 3 fajitas): 7 Points+
275 calories, 8g fat, 312mg sodium, 47g carbs, 8.5g fiber, 7.5g sugars, 7g protein

The recipe: "300 under 300", pages 214 - 215

I absolutely love portabella mushrooms, and when I saw that this recipe not only had portabella mushrooms in it, but also avocado as well, I had to make it.  It has been forever since I have had avocado in any form, mainly since it is so high in calories.  Even having a small amount of avocado in a sort of homemade tomato-based guacamole was a treat.  I bought a very small avocado so I wouldn't have any leftover as a temptation, and it ended up being about a half cup of avocado.  I doubled the tomato-avocado mixture (as HG calls it) since I knew my husband would want extra, and it worked out perfect.

Enough rambling about avocado, though.  The rest of the recipe was good as well.  It was very simple and easy to make - just stir-fry the mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions with some simple seasonings until they are done and you are ready to assemble your fajitas.  The best part about it is that you get to eat three whole fajitas.  Awesome!  True, they are small tortillas, but just the fact that you get three of them makes it feel as though you are eating a whole bunch of food.  It was even enough for my husband to be satisfied.

I would definitely make this recipe again.  Although, I will probably wait until the portabella mushrooms go on sale again.  I had wanted to double the recipe so we would have more than just the two servings, but the portabella mushrooms were pretty expensive.  I bought two mushroom caps for $3 at our grocery store, and that was with them being on sale.  Normally they are $2 or more each!  For mushrooms!  If you are not worried about cost, though, by all means, make this recipe.  It is quick, easy, and yummy.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hot Tuna Stuffed Tomatoes

Per Serving (1/4th of recipe, 1 stuffed tomato): 3 Points+
141 calories, 2g fat, 340mg sodium, 22g carbs, 8.25g fiber, 7g sugars, 13.5g protein

The recipe: "300 under 300", pages 168 - 169

I think I have decided after making this that, other than tuna-mac or tuna noodle casserole, I do not like hot tuna dishes.  I previously tried Hungry Girl's Totally Terrific Tuna Melt, and it was the worst review I have given an HG dish yet.  I am not going to give this recipe a good review, either.  As a matter of fact, this was so inedible that my husband and I each took two bites, and just couldn't eat any more.  Sadly, the food ended up going down the drain.  I did eat the tomato itself, but the filling was so gross I just couldn't eat it.  It just plain didn't taste good, and the texture of the Fiber One with the garbanzo beans and tuna was just weird.  Plus, being stuffed into a tomato was a little weird, too.  I am used to stuffed bell peppers, but the tomato in this recipe seemed to overpower the other flavors.  Mostly all I was tasting was the tomato with the background flavor of the gross filling.

Looking at the photo, it doesn't even look appetizing!  Actually, it is so gross looking that it is making me laugh right now.  :)  My husband asked me how I even thought that this recipe sounded good in the first place.  It has tuna, Fiber One cereal, garbanzo beans, bell pepper, etc. all baked inside a tomato.  I don't often cook with tuna, so I thought this might be a good way to cook something different.  Oh, well.  Back to the drawing board.  I will probably avoid hot tuna recipes for a while, though!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chocolate-Chippy Cheese Danish

Per Serving (1/8th of recipe, 1 slice): 4 Points+
141 calories, 6g fat, 313mg sodium, 18.5g carbs, 0.5g fiber, 6g sugars, 4g protein

The recipe: "300 under 300", pages 106 - 107

Upon first tasting this pastry after it cooled to room temperature, I was thinking that I was going to have to give it a fairly bad review.  It tasted sort of chemically and artificial - most likely due to the fat free cream cheese and splenda in the recipe.  Then I refrigerated the danish and had another piece the next morning.  So much better!

Maybe the flavors just needed a chance to sit and develop.  I don't know.  It was definitely much better after having been refrigerated, though, and tasted a lot like a yummy, fattening cheese danish.  I even gave a piece to my Mom, who was visiting, and she thought it was good as well.  The cream cheese filling with the chocolate chips was creamy, sweet, and so delicious!  There were enough chocolate chips so that you got a nice chocolate flavor with each bite, but not so much that it overpowered the danish.  I did think the frosting could have been a little bit sweeter, but it still went well with the danish as a whole. 

If I am going to make this again, I will definitely make it ahead of time and refrigerate before serving.  I thought the flavors tasted better for some reason and didn't have that artificial taste at all after having been refrigerated. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Eggplant Parmenini

Per Serving (entire recipe): 6 Points+
235 calories, 8.5g fat, 789mg sodium, 29.5g carbs, 7.5g fiber, 6g sugars, 13g protein

The recipe:

As I said last week, I still had at least half of a very large eggplant left after making the two different ratatouille recipes.  This recipe came out in a Hungry Girl email just in time for me to be able to use up my eggplant.  I had found an actual eggplant parmesan recipe by HG, but this one was much easier to make, and was also a fairly good substitute for eggplant parmesan.

To cook the eggplant, I used my George Foreman grill instead of using a grill pan.  It worked out great, and cooked the eggplant in half the time since I didn't have to flip it.  In five minutes, I had perfectly grilled eggplant.  Nice!  Once the eggplant was done, all that was left was to spread a little bit of marinara sauce on it, sprinkle parmesan cheese, add a stick of string cheese, and there you have your sandwich.  I used my George Foreman again to do the final grilling - again in half the time as a regular grill pan.

I really enjoyed this sandwich.  It had all the components of eggplant parmesan (which I love!), but without a ton of calories.  True, it didn't quite have the feel of breaded eggplant, but it still tasted great.  It is one of those recipes where you think, "What a great idea!  Why didn't I think of that?".

I will definitely be making this recipe again the next time I buy eggplant.  The best part about it was that you can easily grill some additional eggplant to eat on the side if you are still hungry after the sandwich.  That is what I did, and I just dipped the eggplant in marinara sauce for an extra point.  A very low calorie dinner or lunch for not many points at all.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Dreamy Butternut Chicken Foil Pack

Per Serving (1/2 of recipe, about 2 cups): 7 Points+
292 calories, 3.25g fat, 575mg sodium, 35.5g carbs, 6g fiber, 10g sugars, 32g protein 

The recipe: "300 under 300", pages 156 - 157

Let me start by saying I have never cooked with butternut squash before.  Partly because I was intimidated by a hard squash that is potentially difficult to work with and partly because my husband is always reminding me of how much he hates squash and I didn't want to make something he wouldn't like.  I decided to ignore both of my trepidations and finally try one of HG's butternut squash recipes.

As I expected, the squash was a little difficult to work with.  I picked one with a long neck and a small round bottom part as HG suggests in the cookbook.  It was fairly difficult to peel, and when I went to hollow out the seeds from the bottom round part, it reminded me of a pumpkin.  Cutting it up was also quite difficult, as it was a pretty hard squash.  I ended up cutting it in bite-size pieces instead of the slices the recipe calls for.  I figured it would cook better the more cut up it was, and would be more appetizing to eat in small bites than in large slices.  I turned out to be right.  The squash ended up being cooked just enough when I took it out of the oven.  I have a feeling if I had left it as slices, the squash would have been slightly undercooked while everything else would have been done.

The flavor of this dish was great.  It was very creamy and savory, and did not taste low-fat at all.  I enjoyed the fact that there were lots of veggies in it - the dish consisted mostly of cauliflower and butternut squash with some onions and a little bit of chicken.  Because of the veggies, the portion size was huge.  I ate a nice, large bowl of this and was satisfied for the whole evening without getting hungry and craving snacks before bed.

The butternut squash was a firm but smooth squash when cooked.  It still reminded me of pumpkin, but with not as strong of a flavor.  I thought it was a pretty good squash, and since I still have the whole long neck part of the squash left, I will probably attempt Hungry Girl's butternut squash fries she is known for.  I would definitely recommend this dish if you are looking for something creamy and flavorful.  You should probably cut up the squash into bite-size pieces when making this dish, though. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Breakfast Rice Pudding

Per Serving (1/2 of recipe, about 1 cup): 8 Points+
290 calories, 4g fat, 244mg sodium, 55g carbs, 4g fiber, 9g sugars, 12g protein

The recipe: "300 under 300", pages 50 - 51

I actually made this recipe the other night for dessert, even though it is technically meant to be a breakfast recipe.  I love rice pudding, and anytime I have leftover rice from dinner, I usually end up making rice pudding out of it.  Normally, I follow a simple recipe I adapted from one of my Weight Watchers cookbooks, but I saw this recipe in the "300 under 300" book and decided to give it a shot.

It ended up tasting very similar to the recipe I make, only this one has more ingredients and is more complicated to make.  Plus, the one I make only has six points+ for a cup, vs. 8 points+ for the HG recipe.  I will most likely stick to my usual one from now on, but this one was delicious, as well. 

This rice pudding came out nice and creamy, with the perfect amount of cinnamon.  A cup of rice pudding is a really nice serving size, and would be a filling breakfast if paired with a banana or other fruit.  I actually ended up doing just that, and ate the second serving for breakfast this morning along with a banana.  I was satisfied enough to where all I needed for a morning snack was a small pear to tide me over until lunch.  Pretty good!  I still don't like the fact that it is 8 points for a serving, though, which caused my points for the day to get messed up (usually I only have about four or five points for breakfast).

Here is my own rice pudding recipe for 6 points+ if you are interested:

 Robin's Rice Pudding
Nutritional info (entire recipe): 6 Points+
4.5g fat, 42g carbs, 4.5g protein, 2g fiber

1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze
Pinch salt
1 packet Splenda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

Combine the rice, Almond Breeze, and salt in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.  Let the mixture cool to room temperature about 30 minutes.

Stir in the Splenda, vanilla, cinnamon, and almond extract. Enjoy!