Mongolian Chicken

One of my favorite dishes whenever I went to PF Chang’s and/or Pei Wei was the Mongolian Beef but as any Weight Watcher knows it wreaks havoc on your points (25 and 22 Smart Points, respectively for the beef only, no thank you!). So I set out to make a point friendly version and came up with a lightened up version using chicken instead of beef for 9 Smart Points. 


Mongolian Chicken

Yield: 1 serving

Smart Points: 9

1 tsp vegetable oil

1 c button mushrooms, chopped

1 medium scallion, sliced

¼ tsp ginger root, minced (can be substituted with ground ginger)

1½ tsp garlic, minced

¼ c low sodium soy sauce

1 tbsp raw sugar

¼ c water

1 tbsp cornstarch

6oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into ½” pieces

½ tsp sesame seeds

Dip the chicken pieces into the cornstarch to apply a very thin dusting to both sides of each piece of chicken. Let the chicken sit for about 10 minutes so that the cornstarch sticks.

As the chicken sits, heat up a non-stick pan to medium high heat and spray with cooking spray. Add the chicken to the pan and sauté until golden brown. Remove from the pan.

Make the sauce by heating 1 tsp of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over med/low heat; don’t get the oil too hot. Add the mushrooms and sauté, then add ginger (if you’re using ground ginger add with the soy sauce and water) and garlic to the pan and quickly add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches. Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, and then raise the heat to about medium and boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens.

Add the chicken to the sauce and simmer; add the green onions and cook for one minute. Sprinkle the sesame seeds and stir.

Serve with either rice or noodles (will change smart points value).

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Creamy Polenta with Beef Marsala

A few years back I was fortunate enough to have dinner at Miami’s Scarpetta. The food was to… die…
for! But one of my favorite dishes that night was their creamy polenta with fricassee of truffles
mushrooms. I’ve tried to complement polenta with different flavors throughout the years, however this was truly one of the best combinations. 

So, when dinner time came around on Sunday night and I glanced at the contents of my fridge I attempted to make a variation on this old favorite of mine and although it wasn’t a copy it didn’t disappoint and was incredibly filling. The whole dish was a bit point heavy but if you’ve have a light day it’s worth the splurge  

Creamy Polenta with Marsala Beef

Yield: 1 serving  

Smart Points: 13


To make the Polenta:

3 tbsp. finely ground corn meal
(finely ground corn meal will cut down cooking time drastically) 

1 c. water

2 tbsp. whole milk

1 tbsp. grated parmesan

Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Mix the cornmeal with about ¼ cup of water and set aside. This step will prevent the cornmeal
from turning into lumps when cooking.

2. Bring the water and milk to a boil and add salt. Add the cornmeal and stir constantly until the
cornmeal reaches your desired consistency (this should only take a few minutes with the fine ground cornmeal, if using a coarser ground, it will take longer to cook).  

3. Turn off the heat and add the parmesan cheese and adjust seasoning if needed.

4. Place in a serving bowl.

To make the beef:

6 oz. trimmed flank steak

¼ c. onion, sliced

1 tsp. garlic, minced

3-4 mushrooms, sliced 

Cooking spray

4 oz. low sodium beef broth

2 tbsp. marsala cooking wine

Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Season the beef with salt and pepper, place in a slow cooker with the sliced onions and garlic.
Cook on high until the beef is fork tender, about 3-4 hours. Shred the beef and set aside.

2. Spray a sauté pan with cooking spray and sauté mushrooms until golden. Add the beef broth
and cook for a few minutes and then add the marsala wine and cook for a few minutes more.

3. Add the beef to the sauce and stir until it is coated.

4. Top the polenta with the beef and serve. 

Cuban Shepherd’s Pie

My mom has been making the best Cuban picadillo for as long as I can remember. There’s a myriad of ways and ingredients to make picadillo however, one of my favorites is when she would add slices of plantains while the meat was cooking. It added a bit of sweetness that would complement the flavor of the meat and sauce and made it oh so delicious. So the other day was I was scrolling through my Instagram feed I saw a traditional shepherd’s pie and thought how amazing it would be to make a Weight Watchers friendly/Cuban version of this dish.  

 

Cuban Style Shepherd’s Pie

 Yield 1

8 Smart Points

 

1-Small Plantain

Olive Oil Cooking Spray

 ⅓ Cup Onions, diced

 ¼ Cup Green Peppers, diced

 2 tsp. Garlic

 1-½ Tbsp. Tomato Paste

 1 Tbsp. Water

 4 oz. 99/1% Ground Turkey Breast

½ tsp. Dried Oregano

⅛ tsp. Ground Cumin

 ⅛ tsp. Paprika

 Salt to taste

 3 Large Olives, sliced

 2 tsp. Turkey Bacon Bits

 

• Preheat oven to 400ºF.

• Peel plantain, slice and boil in water until fork tender. Drain and mash.

• Heat up a non-stick pan at medium heat and spray olive oil spray. Add the onions and cook until they start getting translucent. Add the green peppers and garlic and cook until soft. Add the tomato paste and water and mix together well.

• Add the ground turkey, oregano, cumin, paprika and salt. Mix well with the sauce and cook until the ground turkey is done. Add the sliced olives and take off the heat.

• Transfer picadillo into an oven safe pan and top with the mashed plantains. Sprinkle turkey bacon bits over and place in the oven for 15 minutes. 

BBQ Chicken Baked Potato

Yesterday I went out to lunch and the person I was eating with was having a BBQ chicken sandwich and French fries. During our lunch he suggested that the meal would be great if instead of the sandwich he could take the BBQ chicken and toppings and just toss them over the French fries. This got me thinking how amazing that would all taste and how to lighten them up and make them Weight Watchers friendly. Luckily I was heading to the supermarket afterwards and was able to grab the ingredients for my experiment.  

So here it is in all it’s glory, my version of a BBQ Chicken Baked Potato


Yield: 1 serving

12 Smart Points 

Ingredients

1- 6 oz. Potato, scrubbed clean

5 oz. Chicken breast, cut into small pieces

2 tbsp. BBQ sauce

¼ cup reduced fat cheddar cheese, shredded

1 tbsp. turkey bacon bits 
Preheat the oven to 400ºF

Pierce the potato various times with a knife or fork. Wrap in a damp paper towel and microwave for 8 minutes. You can cook the potato wrapped in foil and in the oven, but the microwave method will save a lot of time.

Season your chicken with salt and pepper and cook in a saute pan over medium high heat. Once done take off the heat and add the BBQ sauce to the pan and mix.

Split the potato down the center and top with the chicken, cheddar cheese and turkey bacon bits. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.

Mediterranean Bowl

I LOVE Mediterranean food! The flavors are fresh and the use of whole foods is very healthy and appealing. Here I’ve taken some of my favorite ingredients and mashed them together but they go so well.

Cooking tip: You can use any vegetables you’d like, however always keep in mind that when you’re cooking them you should always start with the tougher veggies first and go adding the more tender ones as you go along. Here I’ve added the tomatoes at the end so they keep their shape without adding too much liquid and steaming the rest.

Mediterranean Bowl

Yield: 1 serving

9 Smart Points

Ingredients

¼ c. Dry Couscous (4sp)

¼ c. Water

6 oz. Chicken Breast, Seasoned and Grilled (3 sp)

⅓ c. Red Onion, Sliced (0 sp)

½ c. Zucchini, Sliced (0 sp)

½ c. Mushrooms, Sliced (0 sp)

½ c. Cherry Tomatoes, Quartered (0 sp)

2 tbsp. Fat Free Feta Cheese (0 sp)

1 tbsp. Balsamic Glaze (2 sp)

Salt and Pepper to Taste

Instructions

To make the Couscous:

Bring ¼ c. water to a boil; add the dry couscous and cover. Let stand for 5 minutes and fluff with a fork.

To make the Vegetables:

Preheat a sauté pan and spray with olive oil spray. Add onions and zucchini and begin to sauté. Once the onions are starting to get translucent and zucchini are brown, add the mushrooms. Let cook for a few minutes before adding the tomatoes and saute until the tomatoes are heated through.

For the bowl:

Place the couscous, chicken and vegetables in a bowl. Top with feta cheese and balsamic glaze.

Enjoy!

Chicken Burrito Bowl

I haven’t always been a big fan of bowls, but I’ve been changing my tune after seeing how convenient they are. I made this Chicken Burrito Bowl in about 30 minutes of total cooking time and of course any of the ingredients can be substituted or additional ingredients can be added (substitutions/additions may change the smart points value).

Chicken Burrito Bowl 

Yield: 1 serving

8 Smart Points 

1 c. Cooked Brown Rice (4sp)

1/3 c. Seasoned Black Beans (I used canned beans) (2sp)

3 oz. Chicken Breast, Seasoned and Grilled

½ oz. Queso Fresco (1sp)

½ c. Pico de Gallo (0sp, recipe follows)

¼ c. Pickled Onions (0sp, recipe follows)

1 tbsp. Cilantro, Chopped

For the Pico De Gallo

½ c. Tomatoes, chopped

1 tbsp. Fresh Lime Juice

2 tsp. Cilantro, Chopped

Salt, To Taste

Mix all ingredients and set aside

For the Pickled Onions

1 c. Hot Water

½ c. Apple Cider Vinegar

1 tbsp. Granulated Sugar

1-1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt

½ Red Onion, Thinly Sliced

Mix the water, apple cider vinegar, granulated sugar, and kosher salt until the sugar and salt dissolve.

Place sliced onion in a jar and pour vinegar mixture over; let sit at room temperature for at least one hour. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

For the Burrito Bowl

Place the brown rice, black beans, chicken breast, pico de gallo, and pickled onions in a bowl.

Top with crumbled queso fresco and chopped cilantro

Lost & Found

Recently I was contacted by Weight Watchers to be featured as a success story in their magazine and website; of course my first reaction was “Really??? Me???” After much googling names and addresses (I’m a junior internet spy, my best friend will confirm this) I realized this wasn’t some cruel joke. The standard formalities of any magazine article followed; a lot of preliminary questions and paperwork to sign until the actual photo shoot.  When the big day came I was completely unprepared for how hectic an actual professional photoshoot can be. The day started fairly early with hair, makeup, wardrobe and a quick breakfast, then it was off to our first stop. I was photographed at my gym during spinning class and in the weight room which are my favorite workouts and then off we went again. Our second location was a Cuban restaurant where I was photographed having some Cuban coffee, which has been a life saver when I’m having a craving for sweets. Our third location was a garden/farmer’s market for some shots of me shopping for fresh produce and then we would round out the tour with a stop at the park with my daughter. Needless to say it was an exciting day from the moment I woke up.

It’s been two months since that day and my face and body are now in a worldwide magazine as well as the Weight Watchers website. It’s exciting and daunting all at once, but I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. I am grateful that the work I have put forth on my weight loss journey has been recognized in a public medium, but I am also very proud to be able to show my daughter that hard work and perseverance pay off. 

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