Cauliflower “Rice” Southwest Salad

Summer and salads go together well. Cool, refreshing, easy to make, meal prep favorites.

This is my spin on a rice salad with a Southwest spin that can be eaten chilled or heated. I prefer it chilled because it’s an easy go-to topped with grilled chicken or steak.

Cauliflower “Rice” Southwest Salad

Makes 6 @1 WW Freestyle point per serving

  • 12oz bag frozen cauliflower, thawed and riced (I use this method for super easy ricing)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed to remove excess salt
  • 1 can sweet corn, drained
  • 1 jalapeno (to taste)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • cilantro to taste, chopped finely
  • 2T lime juice plus the zest of 1 lime
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon ground cumin (to taste)
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (optional, adds 1 WW Freestyle point per 2 servings)
  • salt and pepper to taste (optional: 1/2 teaspoon chili powder)

Once the cauliflower is riced, drain it very well then microwave for 3 minutes, stir and drain again.

In a food processor pulse the onion, jalapeno and garlic until finely minced.

Toss everything together and refrigerate for 1 hour to blend flavors, up to 5 days.

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Avocado Bean Dip or Hummis(ish)

We all know the nutritional value of an avocado: healthy monounsaturated  fats, a good amount of fiber, over 20 vitamins and minerals, a great source of natural potassium and it tastes great.

On Weight Watchers Freestyle, avocado comes in at 1 point for 1 ounce, and 7 points for 5 ounces (the amount I use in this recipe).

Picking an avocado takes a little knowledge. Here is a good primer to make sure you get a ripe, but not over ripe, fruit.

Avocado Bean Dip or Hummus(ish)

This entire recipe is 7 weight watchers freestyle points, but use common sense because it is a calorie dense food.

  • 5oz avocado (this was 3 small avocados for me)
  • 15oz can great northern beans*, drained and rinsed well
  • 1/2 a small jalapeno (or more, to taste)
  • 3/4 teaspoon Garlic Salt*
  • 2oz water (this is simply to thin out the dip, use more or less as needed)
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1 lime, juice and zest (about 2T juice)
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin or 1/4 cup cilantro*

Start by placing the beans and jalapeno in a food processor and pulse to start breaking up the beans.

Once they look a little like a coarse meal, add everything else except the water and pulse, scraping down the sides occasionally, and adding water as needed, to reach the consistency you prefer.

Refrigerate at least an hour to let the flavors develop.

*I like great northern or white kidney beans for the creaminess they give this, and the color of the avocado comes through. Any bean you like will work: pinto, black beans, even lima beans.

*I use McCormick Coarse Grind Garlic Salt With Parsley because I like the flavor and that it’s more garlic than salt in taste.

*I am not using fresh cilantro currently due to yet another food borne illness outbreak possibly associated with cilantro.

 

Eating Less At Night

You may have heard the saying, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper” by well-known American author and nutritionist Adelle Davis.

I’ve been experimenting with this eating pattern since I tend to snack in the evening.

You’d think eating a lighter dinner would be counter intuitive, but I’ve found that I have no urge to nibble at night, other than a carrot or small piece of cheese.

I should say that I don’t seem to have the craving for salty snacks at night.

I rarely eat breakfast, usually just coffee with half and half, so that puts a lot of caloric pressure on lunch to carry my day.

Even on Weight Watchers, this pattern does work.

I use olive oil, real butter, mayonnaise, half and half, nuts, avocado, beef, etc to get my calories up while having a light dinner.

A typical day this past month has been things whatever I made for dinner the night before for my family or something  like chicken salad(with real mayo!) or eggs scrambled in butter or mashed with avocado, full fat yogurt topped w/chopped walnuts, sardines in olive oil, you get the picture.

Then dinner is simple: grilled chicken breast (3-4oz) with a side salad or veggies; a small sandwich; vegetable chicken soup; a couple of hard boiled eggs with a light string cheese and a sliced cucumber; a light low-carb pita with turkey breast and tomatoes.

I am staying well within my WW points allowance, and keeping my calories in the 1000-1200 range, and have not had the urge to make popcorn or eat popchips (try the BBQ -or maybe don’t, they’re addictive lol).

Wishing you all a Happy 4th Of July early- stay safe! 🙂

 

Summer Fruit Season!

Eating in-season is supposed to be better for us, but with the availability of almost any food year around, it can take some internet searching to determine what is “IN” season locally.

There used to be a family run produce stand here. I remember going with my mom, that’s how long it was around. You knew what was in season by their stock. They bought and farmed locally and in the Central Texas region. Nostalgic hind-sight tells me I should have appreciated those trips more.

Summer is definitely the bounty of fruits season here on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Here’s a little chart to get you started: Summer Seasonal Chart

I don’t see watermelon or bananas on that list, but I’m pretty sure they are as well.

Another thing we may get stuck on is serving sizes.

If you look at a small Gala apple, that is a serving of apple. If you look at the typical Honeycrisp apple that’s roughly the size of a large kids softball, that is 2-3 servings.

1 cup of blueberries or grapes is considered a serving; 8 large strawberries; 3 medium plums are all considered a single serving now. (side note: a “serving” of grapes on Weight Watchers used to be 10 grapes; a serving of blueberries was 1/2 cup and a serving of strawberries was 5 berries. I still adhere to those sizes because, in my mind, that is a reasonable serving).

Thing like fruit based smoothies, fruit salad and cooked fruits can be an easy way to get those 5 servings in, but use common sense: smoothies can easily push the 400-500 calorie barrier. Fruit salads depend a lot on the fruit (in heavy syrup? sugary dressing?) opting for fresh most of the time is a better option. Trail mixes made with dried (and usually sugared)fruits have very small portion sizes listed for a reason.

I’m not suggesting to never indulge in these treats, or to enjoy that delicious Honeycrisp apple, just don’t make it a daily thing.

Two of my favorite snacks are:

Apple slices with either 1 tablespoon peanut butter or 1 ounce extra sharp cheddar cheese. Just slice the apple thinly and top with the PB or cheese slices;

4 dried apricots topped with 1 ounce goat cheese, 4 walnut halves and a drizzle (1 teaspoon) honey (this also makes a great party appetizer 🙂 )

Are We A Nation Of Addicts?

You know how you wake up in the middle of the night with a stray thought that you just can’t stop thinking about?
That was me, at 3am Monday morning about this topic.

Start with the accepted definition of addict:

1to devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively 
2to cause addiction to a substance in (a person or animal)
I look at my son and his friends, and you almost never see them without their smart phones in hand, eyes on the screen, barely paying attention to the “reality” around them.
I look at my husband who does drink 2-3 beers a night to “unwind” or will drink a whole bottle of scotch over a weekend. When he can’t drink, when he’s on call for work as an example, he gets cranky, argumentative, knit-picks everything, and just grumpy as hell over all. So is he an addict? Probably.
I don’t  turn a blind eye to myself. I play video games, binge-watch Netflix, buy a lot online on a whim(you’re welcome Amazon for funding at least one employees salary), etc. I don’t drink often, and I rarely even look at my cell phone.
When someone says they’re “addicted to food”, my first though it “well duh – everyone is. If you don’t eat, you die. That’s a necessity, not an addiction.” but looking deeper at that statement, when someone makes that comment, it’s usually about a specific food or group of foods.
Carbs are a biggie. I don’t know many people that only eat 2oz of pasta, or 1/3 cup of rice or 1 slice of bread, for examples.
Maybe because carbs are the easiest thing TO overeat, and they tend to cause cravings for more carbs, it could easily have an addictive quality.
I love watermelon. It’s only really good and in season about 2 months out of the year, and I indulge while it’s good.
I know me, I can quite literally eat watermelon until I’m sick. So, I guess, for me, that’s a food addiction of a sort.
With my son it’s tortilla chips and salsa.
For my husband, I’d say it’s pudding. If I buy more than just enough pudding cups for his lunches, he will eat anything over that number in a day.
I bought 4 x 4 pack because they were on sale, and he ate every single one – all 16 – over the weekend, then complained because he didn’t have any for lunch the next week.
I guess my point in all this is: it’s very easy to not see our own addictive tendencies. Sometimes it’s in our best interest to turn that mirror onto ourselves and evaluate what we may need to change and pay more attention to.

Beans On Weight Watchers Freestyle

Beans are a staple in many homes around the world.

Nutritionally, they are:

  • low in saturated fat and cholesterol,
  • range in calories from 100-130 calories per 1/2 cup prepared,
  • are a good source of plant based protein,
  • have loads of nutrients (Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium, and a very good source of Protein, Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folate, Copper and Manganese),
  • a good source of fiber, including oligosaccharides  and resistant starches,
  • and in general can taste really good.

They can be fairly high in actual carbs (example: dark red kidney beans are 19g carbs per 1/2 cup) but they do have quite a bit of fiber to help buffer that (same dark red kidney beans have 8g fiber, making them 11g net carbs per 1/2 cup).

On Weight Watchers Freestyle, they are a “zero point” food, but watch your portions.

I do use my instant pot often to make beans, but I was raised making them stove-top and, to me, they do taste better that way, even though it’s more time consuming.

Easy Basic Stove-top Beans

  • 1 pound dry beans
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: 2 cloves garlic; canned diced tomatoes; fresh jalapeno peppers(decap but leave the pepper whole); chili powder

Rinse the beans and pick through to make sure there are no rocks. If you’re making black beans, rinse them once and soak in cold water for 1 hour, then rinse again.

Place in a deep pot with the onion and any optional ingredients, but not salt just yet.

Cover with enough water to fully cover the beans plus 3″.

Bring to a rolling boil then cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1-4 hours*. When the beans have started to soften, add the salt, usually around the 1 hour mark.

*1-4 hours because older beans can take longer to cook, different varieties take longer, and personal taste for the softness of the beans.

Beans tend to absorb and dull the taste of salt, so if you start off adding it at the beginning, you’ll end up  adding  a lot more later on as they cook!!

I make a pot of these and freeze in 1 cup portions to add to casseroles, chili, even to spoon onto salads through the week.

These can also be mashed for fat free refried beans that you make to taste the way YOU like.

My Zero WW Freestyle Point Apple Pie Filling or Topping

Using BALL® REALFRUIT® LOW OR NO-SUGAR NEEDED PECTIN is really a great alternative to high sugar jams, jellies, toppings and fillings.

Once you get the method down, the fruit you use is up to you.

Apple is easy because unsweetened applesauce is easy to find, but use whatever fruit you like.

I do suggest making your own fruit “sauce” via a cook method instead of a puree/blend method since WW differentiates and adds points to blended/pureed fruits.

Zero Point Apple Pie Filling or Topping (no bake pies)

Makes 10 servings @ 0 WW freestyle points each or the entire batch is 3 points (from the Truvia)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Ball RealFruit Pectin, Low or No-Sugar Needed
  • cup(s) unsweetened applesauce
  • medium fresh apple(s), peeled and diced small -apple of your choice
  • Tbsp Truvia Natural sweetener with brown sugar blend
  • packet(s) Splenda Naturals Sugar & Stevia sweetener blend, to taste
  • 12oz water
  • tsp ground cinnamon, to taste
    1pinchground nutmeg
  • pinch sea salt

Instructions

  • Bring the water, nutmeg and cinnamon to a simmer with the diced apples and simmer on low heat for 5-6 minutes or until the apples are tender but hold their shape.
  • Add everything else in and bring to a boil for 1 minute to dissolve the sweeteners and pectin.
  • Remove from heat and cool to room temp then refrigerate at least 4 hours until set.
  • Use as a topping for yogurt or oatmeal, or as a pie filling.
Notes

If it does not set after 4 hours, return to heat and add 1/4 cup water with an additional 2tsp pectin, bring to a boil for 1 minute then repeat cooling process. I have never found this necessary, but I have read this is the method to use.

Sweeteners used are your preference, but the brown sugar blend adds a nice depth to the flavor.

Use as a pie filling for no-bake pies, as a yogurt or oatmeal topping, on toast as a jam alternative, or by itself on graham crackers or whatever you like.

I will be experimenting with a peach version of this in a week or 2 and will post the results.

Another Califia Farms Product Review: Cafe Latte Cold Brew

I don’t often recommend a product with cane sugar in it, but this is an exception.

The Califia Farms Cafe Latte Cold Brew is excellent, not too sweet and only 3 WW Freestyle points per 8oz serving.

At only 8g sugar for 8 ounces, it’s certainly a better choice than most Latte drinks with sugar (I’m looking at you, Starbucks).

I can also attest to the fact that the 8oz of Califia Farms, blended with ice, is a fantastic iced coffee drink.

I found several Califia Farms products at Kroger, and I’ll probably try their Double Espresso Cold Brew this week, over ice, and see if it lives up to the standard the Latte set.

Anyway, I just wanted to pass this product along since my review of the basic creamers they make was not all that positive.

 

Product Review: Califia Farms Better Half Creamer

Looking for a coffee creamer with lower calories, but that still adds a creamy flavor?

Califia Farms Unsweetened Better Half  may be the one you want.

For Weight Watchers Freestyle purposes, up to 4 Tablespoons is 1 point, 6 Tablespoons is 2. It’s slightly lower in calories than Nutpods (at 10 calories per tablespoon), but has a slightly creamier taste.

It’s only 15 calories for 2T, Soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, carrageenan-free, non-GMO, kosher, and vegan.

It is NOT half and half or cream, it’s more like a beefed up almond milk.

On Amazon, comparing prices, the Nutpods 4 pack comes in at $0.32 per ounce, and the Califia Farms as an “add on” Prime item at $0.16 per ounce.

If you’re placing a Prime order, the Califia is definitely a better deal.

While neither of these products add the creaminess of a real heavy creamer, they are not bad!

I don’t use them to cook, however they are both recommended as acceptable alternatives to dairy in recipes that call for milk. I do use unsweetened almond milk, and honestly I can’t see using the Califia or Nutpods for a recipe that calls for 2-3 cups of milk, simply for the cost.

The Califia seems to make a better iced coffee as well. It seems to disperse and stay mixed better than Nutpods.

That’s my opinion on these products.

Happy Mothers Day to you all as well 🙂

Tzatziki Sauce or Ranch Dressing?

On Weight Watchers, creamy dips and dressings can add a lot to your salads and veggies.

The  basic Ranch dressing is just non-fat Greek yogurt mixed with ranch dressing powder, and enough almond milk to thin it to the consistency you like.

At zero points per serving, it’s a very popular option, but the powder itself does have 6 points per packet (Hidden Valley brand).

While you’re not likely to eat an entire packet, something to keep in mind.

Tzatziki is my personal favorite, but the brand of yogurt really makes a big difference.

I really liked Fage fat free Greek yogurt, but it is very tangy and not smooth.

Someone recommended Siggi’s Icelandic Style yogurt and it’s amazing.

It’s more savory and less tangy, smoother and has a wonderfully fresh flavor. If I had to describe it, I’d say it’s almost like sour cream and cream cheese blended. The zero fat ones are WW friendly and they do not taste like fat free yogurt.

For my Tzatziki: (0WW freestyle points)

  • 1 cup Siggi’s fat free icelandic yogurt
  • 1/2 a medium cucumber, peeled and grated
  • 2T lemon juice, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill (or more, to taste)
  • garlic salt*

Simply stir everything together and refrigerate at least an hour for the flavors to develop.

*I use McCormick Culinary Garlic Salt with Parsley in this because I’ve found that raw garlic can easily overpower it.

I use this on grilled chicken, in place of mayonnaise, as a dip, thinned with a little almond milk as a dressing, and it works great as a cole slaw dressing.

With grilled chicken, pickled red onions, lettuce and tomatoes in a Joseph’s Middle Eastern Bakery low-carb pita, makes a great, summer refreshing meal.