Smoky Almond Crusted Chicken

Smoky Almond Crusted Chicken, serves 2-4, (2 WW SP per piece of chicken)

  • 2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup ground flax meal
  • garlic powder, to taste
  • 1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika, or to taste
  • salt and pepper to season chicken breasts
  • olive oil cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and warm a pan that can go from stovetop to oven on medium heat. Pat the chicken breasts dry and season with salt and pepper. Beat the egg in a bowl large enough for dipping the chicken. Mix the almond meal, flax meal, garlic and paprika and spread onto a plate or pan for coating the chicken. Dip each piece of chicken in the egg, into the coating mixture, and into the heated pan that has been coated with a few sprays of the olive oil cooking spray. Cook chicken on each side for 5 minutes and then move the pan to the oven for 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken. If your pan cannot be put in the oven, move the chicken to a baking pan lined with foil or parchment paper before putting in the oven.

 

 

Beets, Beets Baby. Enjoy!

Roasted Beets
Growing up, the only thing I knew about beets was that they came pickled in a jar, and I didn’t like them then. Although I have developed an appreciation for the pickled beet, I much prefer them roasted. I hope you enjoy these beets and the salad that you can make with them.

The beets can be eaten as is, or incorporated into a salad. One of my favorite ways to do that is to nestle a spoonful or two of beets on a bed of arugula or spinach and top with roasted and salted pumpkin seeds and feta or boursin cheese. You can use the beet juice mixed with vinegar in the bowl as your dressing. The salad would be excellent topped with green onion as well. Experiment with the flavors of vinegar for marinating the beets and your salad toppings!

In the video linked above, I mentioned Oliveto, my source in Roanoke, Virginia for high quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Almost every city has a similar shop, but if not, Oliveto ships. http://www.olivetooliveoil.com/

Roasted Beets, serves 4 (0 WW SP)

  • 1 bunch fresh beets, 5 usually comes in a bunch
  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and cover a small baking pan with foil. Tear off a small piece of foil for each beet, large enough for each beet to be wrapped completely. Wash and dry beets thoroughly, just as you would if baking potatoes. Cut the root and stem ends off. Rub each beet with a small amount of olive oil and wrap in one of the pieces of foil. Place the wrapped beets on the foil lined pan, and roast in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour. You will know the beets are done when the thin blade of a knife can pierce the beet without resistance. Remove beets from the oven and allow to cool until they are still warm, but cool enough to handle. Rub the beets’ skins off with a paper towel, if desired. Roughly chop beets and place in any container with a lid. Stir in desired balsamic vinegar (lemon, for example) and marinate in the refrigerator until they are thoroughly cooled.

Oven Roasted Pork Chops

Oven Roasted Pork Chops are a favorite at my house! We love the bone-in thick cut ones seared off and roasted to perfection in the oven. This isn’t a recipe that I adapted for WW, but it’s not a deal breaker if you pair it with healthy sides.

Oven Roasted Pork Chops, Serves 2 (approximately 9 WW SP as shown in video)

  • 2 bone in pork chops, approximately 8-10 oz. each
  • seasonings to taste (salt, pepper, garlic powder, Italian herb blend used in video)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil, or less.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, heat a pan that can go into the oven on medium heat. If you don’t have a pan that can go into the oven, you’ll also need to prepare a small baking pan.

Sprinkle seasonings onto pork chops on both sides. Add olive oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add chops to the pan and sear 5 minutes per side. Move the pan to the preheated oven, or to the prepared baking pan, and continue cooking for 25-30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chops. Enjoy!

 

Why People Give Up…

Why do people give up their weight loss journeys and ultimately fail? I do not claim to be any authority on the science of losing weight, nor am I a psychiatrist, psychologist, dietician, et. But, I’ve had lots of people ask me what I did to lose weight, and there are some common threads to what people share with me about their journeys. Check out the video linked above for more on each of these:

1. “Can’t” language is something I hear a lot. “I’m doing the XYZ program, so I “can’t have” or “can’t eat” whatever food anymore. Let’s be clear that I’m not talking here about people who have to avoid certain foods due to an allergy, sensitivity, intolerance, or other disorder. I’m talking about self-imposed plans!
2. Trying to make all the changes at once. It can be too much for some people.
3. Sustainability.

Leave a comment to this post about whether you agree with this list, disagree, or just share your experience with starting and stopping. This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list, but these are three things that have been on my mind lately due to actual conversations I’ve had with people about their weight loss journeys.

Paella Valenciana

Paella!
In my non-YouTube life, paella has been one of my most requested recipes. I’ve served it to guests in our home and I’ve taken the leftovers to lunch where I get a lot of questions about it. So here’s the “long-awaited” paella recipe. This is not a WW version of paella. It’s the real deal, but it happens to be very healthy and WW friendly. If this recipe serves 6, a serving would be 1 piece of the chicken and 1/5 of the rice. That’s a lot of rice! It still comes out to be 8 WW SP per serving, so if you cut back the rice on your plate and have leftovers, it might even be fewer.

Authentic paella valenciana started as a hunter’s dish, made out in the open field with the rice and spices they could carry with them, and the game, like rabbit, that they caught. I suppose this led to the tradition that in Spain, paella is a dish usually prepared in a large quantity outdoors over an open flame, primarily by men. When I had paella in Spain 20 years ago, it was overseen my my friend’s dad and uncle, but with her mom lending a hand and giving advice. The beautiful seafood paellas that you see in pictures bursting with shrimp and shellfish are great, and they have a place, but they are not authentic paella valenciana.

Paella Valenciana, serves 6 generous servings (8 WW SP per serving)

  • 1 1/2 lb chicken thighs, boneless and skinless (about 6)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 jarred piquillo peppers, patted dry and diced, or jar roasted red peppers
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 15 oz. can flat green beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 1/2 cups Calasparra or other non-long grain rice such as Arborio
  • 1/2 cup cups dry white wine
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • saffron, generous pinch

Preheat your oven to 325F.

Add chicken broth and saffron to a small saucepan and warm on low heat until it’s time to add it.

Add oil to a hot paella pan or skillet and add chicken that has been salted and peppered generously, and let cook on medium heat 5-6 minutes and then flip to brown on the other side. Remove the chicken to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

Add onions to the pan and cook until they turn translucent. Add tomatoes and combine well, being careful to scrape up the flavorful brown bits from the bottom of the pan as the tomatoes cook. Add peppers and garlic and allow to cook down for about 10 minutes. This step has created the sofrito base of the dish.

Add paprika and rice and make sure the rice is coated in the paprika and sofrito. Add the wine and broth and stir to combine. Allow the contents of the pan to come to a soft boil, stirring occasionally to make sure the rice does not stick. Add the green beans and stir to evenly distribute them throughout the mixture. Allow the paella to simmer until it is no longer soupy, continuing to monitor so that it does not stick.

Add the chicken back to the pan and place in the oven uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover with foil or the lid of your pan for an additional 10 minutes to allow it to finish cooking. Serve and enjoy!

 

So You’ve Lost Some Weight, Now What to Wear?

I recently uploaded to videos about clothing retailers who helped me find my way when I found myself with a baggy, uncomfortable wardrobe and not much to wear. Discount retailers TJ Maxx and thrifting and consignment played a role, but when I needed professional help from a stylist or sales associate, Stitch Fix and Talbots were a huge help! 

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Cajun Shrimp!

Cajun Shrimp
This shrimp recipe couldn’t be any easier! I served my shrimp with grits, but you certainly don’t have to. I had been making this Cajun shrimp for a while before it ever occurred to me to put it alongside grits. But you could make the grits and call it shrimp and grits!

You can make the Cajun Shrimp recipe from fresh or thawed frozen shrimp. If you buy it not peeled and deveined, you’ll need to, and a portion of the video above is devoted to showing you how if you don’t already know.

Cajun Shrimp, serves 2 (4 WW SP per serving)

  • 1 lb. of shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Whole Foods Market Blackened Cajun Seasoning
  • 1 lemon, juiced

Pre-heat oven to 400F. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray, if desired. Thaw shrimp if using frozen, and peel and devein if necessary. Toss the shrimp in a bowl with the oil and seasoning and place on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake uncovered for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and pour the lemon juice over the shrimp on the baking sheet, and toss gently with a spatula. Serve with pasta, rice, zoodles, or grits.

Grits, serves 2 (6 WW SP per serving)

  • 1/4 c yellow stoneground grits
  • 2 cups cooking liquid (I prefer 1/2 water and 1/2 chicken broth)
  • 2 Tablespoons half and half
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Bring liquids to a boil in a small saucepan and add grits and salt. Reduce heat to low and stir frequently to prevent sticking for about 30 minutes. Grits may be done sooner, depending on how warm the “low” setting is on your stove. Before serving, stir in the half and half and adjust seasoning as needed. Consult the package directions for the grits you purchased.

What I Wish I Knew Before Starting WW… or any weight loss journey

Things I wish I knew before starting a WW, or any weight loss journey:

1. Plan! This is so obvious, but I wish I had learned to be more intentional about it. I was pretty good at tracking and keeping a food journal, but I was horrible at planning. I need to do a better job. Goals!

2. WW may change the plan, but it will be OK… Over the years that I’ve been in and out of Weight Watchers, or WW, they’ve revamped their plans and changed the points values on dairy, proteins. Some carbs like beans and corn are currently 0 Smart Points when they used to count. Even the name given to points has changed. I’ve seen plain old Points, Points Plus, and now Smart Points on Freestyle. It doesn’t matter what they call it, because they’ve changed the numbers of points that you can have in a day accordingly as they’ve adjusted the points values of food. Relax and trust the process. They know what they’re doing!

3. Food isn’t the most expensive part… it’s the clothes. The best I can tell you is to make thrift stores, consignment stores, and discount retailers your friend. Think Goodwill and TJ Maxx. As you lost weight you don’t want to look baggy, and clothes that are designed to be tailored and fitted are really uncomfortable when they don’t fit. When you wear something that fits after being baggy, people will notice and compliment you. Speaking of people expressing their opinions…

4. Well-meaning people will say things to you that hurt without it being intentional. For example, “You look so much better!” Better than what? Really? I didn’t think I looked horrendous before; losing weight was just as much about my health.

5. Find an exercise program that you love, but it does not need to be on day 1! I am not giving you an excuse NOT to exercise on this one. I’m just saying that it might make you feel less overwhelmed to implement change, and thus stick with your new plan, if you take a gradual approach. For example, if you eliminate sodas, eat less, eliminate foods you love (unnecessary self-imposed torture, by the way), and workout hard every day starting on Monday, you won’t last. Trust me.

Take it easy, don’t be too hard on yourself, but do something. Good luck!

Easy Roasted Chicken

Roasted Chicken
The act of cooking a roasted chicken with the one you love has become the height of romantic kitchen endeavor. Who would have thought that the culinary coupling of a prince and Hollywood royalty would inspire us all to want to master this roasted bird? Harry and Megan made the at-home date night of roasting a simple chicken chic when they announced that that’s precisely what they were doing when he popped the question. Do you want to get cooking with the one you love?

When you roast your own chicken you control the seasoning and with my recipe, you can create a beautiful pan sauce of onion and lemon to serve along with your chicken. This roasted chicken would be great alongside the rosemary roasted potatoes that I showed you how to make in a previous video.

Click here to learn about the perfect potatoes to pair with your poultry!

Roasted Chicken

  • whole chicken, 3-5 pounds
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 3-5 peeled garlic cloves
  • medium red onion
  • salt and pepper to taste, or dried herb blend to taste
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons butter, melted

Pre-heat your oven to 425F. Rinse the chicken and pat dry the outside skin thoroughly with paper towels. Add the lemon half and garlic cloves to the inside of the chicken and tie the legs together with a bit of cooking twine. Tuck the wing tips under the breast. Slice the onion into rings and place in the bottom of a dutch oven or pan that can be used on top of the stove. Place the chicken on top of the onions. Brush with the melted butter and season with salt and pepper or dried herbs. Add a few tablespoons of water to the bottom of the pan to prevent the onions from burning. Place the pan in the preheated oven for one hour. Remove the pan after one hour and check the onions. Add more water if the onions are getting too dark around the edges. Return to the oven for an additional 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes, remove the chicken from the oven and move it to a platter to cool. Carefully remove the lemon from the chicken and squeeze some of the juice and pulp into the pan juices and onion. Alternately, when removing chicken from the pan, make it a point to insert a fork into the lemon so that the juices will drain back into the pan. Place the pan of juices and onion on a stove burner set to medium and simmer the sauce until it has thickened slightly. Serve the pan sauce along with the chicken.

Equipment used in YouTube Video

Le  Creuset Dutch French Oven https://amzn.to/2F9Irt9

Peugeot Pepper Grinder https://amzn.to/2SZRPmY

This blog post is not sponsored, but sometimes I use affiliate links.

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Crustless Quiche! or egg casserole, or baked eggs…

Do you love quiche but not the added points and calories from the crust? Or maybe you’re looking for a gluten free option? My crustless quiche is the answer. It is truly crustless because it does not rely on an alternative crust (think sweet potato, almond flour, etc.), but is instead baked in a pie plate coated with cooking spray.

It contains much less cheese and cream, half and half, or milk than a traditional quiche, but instead focuses on the filling of spinach and mushrooms that I used. You could use other fillings that you like, such as bell peppers, onions, or add meats such as ham and bacon.

I really think of this recipe as a formula that you can make your own, depending on what you have on hand. You can also call this breakfast casserole or egg casserole, but I call it quiche since I’m making mine in a traditional glass pie plate. Get creative! Let me know in the comments what combinations of cheese, vegetable, and meats you think would work in this “formula.”

Crustless Quiche

Makes 8 servings 1 WW Smart Point per slice

  • 8 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons half and half
  • 1/4 feta cheese, or cheese of your choice
  • 3 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1-2 Tablespoons water
  • 1-2 teaspoons of dried herbs, or fresh herbs to taste. I used dried Italian seasoning, but have tried tarragon in the past with great results. This is an optional ingredient.
  • Chopped garlic and meats are optional, but meats should be thoroughly cooked before adding to the egg mixture.

Preheat your oven to 350F. In a large skillet, saute the mushrooms in the olive oil and a pinch of salt until softened. Add the spinach and stir until thoroughly wilted. Transfer the spinach and mushrooms to a pie plate coated in cooking spray. Break the eggs in a large bowl and whisk in the cheese, half and half, and seasonings. Pour the egg mixture into the pie plate and use the whisk to adjust the ingredients to make sure they are evenly distributed. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing into 8 even pieces. Enjoy!

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Smoothies! Plus 3 Bonus Tips

I could literally drink a milkshake every single day of my life and be a happy person. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t fit into my clothes very long, which would definitely not be good! So instead I’ve spent a lot of time and trial and error making a smoothie recipe that satisfies my milkshake obsession, does not need any added sweetener, and fits well within my WW points allowance. The recipe I’m sharing today checks all three boxes, plus, I’m sharing 3 bonus tips for making smoothies.

Think of this as a formula that you can plug into whatever ingredients you have more so than a recipe. I’m using strawberries, but you could put in blueberries, mango, raspberries, or whatever combination sounds good to you. Switch out the banana for a few chunks of fresh or frozen avocado (yes, now available in the frozen fruit section of your grocery) for added creaminess without the banana taste. Trust me, you will not taste the avocado with such a small amount in with the flavors of the other ingredients! Watch the YouTube video for more detailed explanations about ice v. frozen fruit and the 3 bonus tips.

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Smoothie- serves 1

  • ice (optional, depending on how many other frozen ingredients you add)
  • 1/4 Cup Fage 2% Greek yogurt, or yogurt of your choice (contributes 1 WW SP, or choose 0% for 0 points)
  • 2 Tablespoons PB2 or any powdered peanut butter
  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • 1/4 to 1/3 Cup frozen fruit without added sugar, such as strawberries, blueberries, and mango

Bonus Tips:

  • Use banana! A ripe banana adds creaminess to your smoothie without adding points, but it also adds enough sweetness that you don’t need to add any other sugar or artificial sweetener.
  • Liquid v. frozen ratio! Adding frozen fruits and ice adds to the slushiness factor that you want in a smoothie. Without something frozen, the consistency will the thinner and less milkshake-like, so you at least need ice. The more frozen content in the cup, the more liquid you’ll need, whether it’s a type or milk or just water.
  • Color! You eat with your eyes first, so think about what the final product will look like, especially if you’re serving smoothies to someone else. This becomes particularly obvious if you’re adding green ingredients like spinach or kale to a smoothie with red fruits such as strawberries or raspberries. Don’t make a brown smoothie!

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What I Eat in A Day on Weight Watchers Freestyle #1

Now that I look back on Tuesday, I can see why I had no appetite and why I left 4 points on the table. That is so unusual for me! It started out as a beautiful day and I felt great. The next morning, all indicators were pointing to the flu, so I made an appointment and got tested. The flu it was!

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Baked Apples-1 Weight Watchers Point!

These baked apples couldn’t be easier, and the bonus is that they have only 1 Weight Watchers Point per serving. That point comes from the coconut sugar, which gives these apples their depth of flavor, along with a sprinkling of cinnamon. I used Gala apples, but any should work in this recipe just fine.

Baked Apples 1 Weight Watchers Point-Serves 4

  • 4-5 Gala apples, washed and peeled-optional
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste
  • 2-3 Tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a square baking dish with cooking spray and add the water. Peel apples, if choosing to do so, and slice. Place all into a square baking dish and sprinkle the coconut sugar and desired amount of cinnamon. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Check that the apples have softened, and if not, cover again and bake an additional 15 minutes. When apples are tender, stir apples and return to the oven to cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes. Remove apples from the oven and stir, and allow to sit for a few minutes to cool. The syrup in the dish will thicken slightly as it cools. Serve warm or chilled.