Spanikopita Chicken Meatballs

 

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Guys, meatballs are kinda my thing.  As much as I love good old fashioned Italian-style meatballs in “gravy” (if you don’t call red sauce with meat gravy in Philly you just don’t belong here), the kind of meatballs I like to make are not what your Nonna might expect.  I’ve made meatballs that are stuffed with cheese, meatballs that taste like Chinese orange chicken, and most famously, my Raspberry Chipotle Meatballs– those bad boys won me a meatball contest at work last year.  Not kidding.  I even got a trophy!

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Photo Cred: Krissy Iaci 

There are so many different types and so much you can do with meatballs.  This recipe that I’m sharing with you today was inspired by an appetizer dish from Rachael Ray.  Instead of serving them as an app, I updated the recipe a bit, added a serving of rice, and voila it was our dinner!

These Spanikopita chicken meatballs are so delish, and they are not bad for you at all!  They are jam packed with spinach and using ground chicken breast limits the fat in the meatballs too.  When I originally tried this recipe, I used real (whole fat) feta cheese, but I recommend if you’re trying to be “good” to use fat free or reduced fat feta.  The feta texture and flavor is still there, but won’t cost you as many calories (or points if you’re on Weight Watchers like me!).

Spanikopita Chicken Meatballs

Recipe Adapted from:  Rachael Ray 
Serves: 3 (18 meatballs total plus sauce)
WW Smart Points (with real feta): 7
WW Smart Points (with fat free feta):  3 (omg right)

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped, divided
  • 2 boxes frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry (I use cheesecloth)
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese *see note*
  • 1 pound ground chicken breast
  • 1 tablespoon grill seasoning (I used Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)
  • 3/4 cup Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 seedless cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh dill
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons, cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons, coriander
  • Salt

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Dieting is hard!!

F Dieting.  It really, really, really sucks.  It really sucks when you LOVE food like I do.  About 3 weeks ago, I started back up on the new Weight Watchers program.  I am also seeing the dietitian at my work (aka “John the Dietitian” … as we have another John in my office).  John the Dietitian is wonderful and fills in the blanks that WW leaves out, such as how many servings of grains/fruits/dairy, etc I should be eating per day, the timing of my meals, and things like lowering sugar intake.  The combination of the two programs have been really helpful.

This all sounds fine and dandy, until I get home and my parents are making a delicious homemade pizza… I didn’t get a chance to food shop for the week, and I’m exhausted from working out and finally getting home at 8pm.  WTF’s a girl to do?!

Although my parents, boyfriend, sister, and some friends are supportive of my trying to lose some weight, it is still so difficult to try to be “good” when everyone else… isn’t.

Snacks are a big weakness at home.  My family is notorious for having a fully stocked chip/snack cabinet, filled with new flavors and types of goodies.  The same thing goes with our sweets and candy.  My Dad is Tastykake’s #1 Fan and we even keep boxes of those out on the counter… in plain sight.  I’ve grown used to avoiding at least those, but fresh soft pretzels and new chips are nearly impossible to ignore.

At work… free food is such a trigger for me breaking my diet.  With the way my finances have been (well since I graduated, ha)… the sound of free food is almost too good to pass up.  Most of the time, free food is never what I really want to or should be eating.  People bring in chocolates, cookies, hoagies, bagels, etc etc.  My co-workers never really get the point that i DO NOT WANT to eat bad!  They continue to try to give bad food to me… it can be very hard at times to say no.

With friends, the hardest thing for me is going out to eat.  I absolutely LOVE trying new restaurants, and i seriously enjoy spending time with my girlfriends… but going out to eat with them twice or even just once a week adds up.  I feel guilty but try to steer our restaurant choices to make sure there is something I can eat that is on the healthier side.

With all of these outside factors constantly affecting my choices, of course it’s going to be hard to diet.  However, it is ultimately my decision what I put into my body.  Making smart choices can be hard but they’re what it takes to make a difference.

Although it’s not fun, a great way for me to make good decisions is to “be on my own” for dinner.  This week, my parents cooked up a homemade pizza and Dave made himself a ridiculously gooey grilled cheese.

It smelled as good as it looks!

Dave’s RIDICULOUSLY AMAZING grilled cheese… mmmmmmmmmmm!

I decided to go on my own and make a Spinach & Tomato Omelet with Toast.  It’s so easy, so healhty, and honestly I love it.  Eggs are my absolute favorite healthy food… I love them in the morning… with my lunch… and it is a GREAT dinner when I’m short on time and “points”!

I love to load on the spinach… its super healthy and ZERO points, like all green veggies!

A huge dinner for only 5 WW Points… Oh, and I love ketchup on eggs. 🙂

Spinach & Tomato Omelet w/ Toast

ONLY 5 POINTS!  (it will be more if you don’t measure the parm & cream cheese, so be careful!)
Ingredients:
2 Egg Whites
1 Egg
Handful Spinach
1/2 Tomato, chopped
2 Slices Smartwheat Wonder Bread (the best diet bread, ever)
1 teaspoon Fat Free Cream Cheese
Spray Butter
Sprinkle Parmesan Cheese & Garlic Salt
Directions:  Easy!!
1.  Mix eggs and pour onto a heated & sprayed frying pan.  Mix it around with heat-proof rubber scraper until the eggs start to settle on the bottom.  Add tomato & spinach.  When the egg is almost cooked, fold over and let the inside cook for another two minutes.
2.  Toast the bread, then spread the cream cheese on one side, spray butter and a sprinkle (teaspoon or less) of Parmesan cheese on the other.  I like a little garlic salt on that piece too!

Do you have any tricks for eating right?  What are your favorite healthy foods?

Summer Salad

Usually when I come home from work and working out, the last thing I feel like doing is making a fancy dinner.  If I put together a salad or some stir-fry… chances are that I won’t be writing about it on the blog.

With that being said, this “ordinary” weeknight dinner salad was just too pretty and too delicious to not brag about!

Summer Salad

Recipe by:  It’s Good to be the Cook
Makes 1 Serving @  5 WW Points
Ingredients:
1/4 Head Iceberg Lettuce, torn
1/4 Champagne Mango
1/4 Cucumber
1/4 Avocado
1 slice Bacon, cooked crisp
6 Grape Tomatoes
4 Green Beans
Green Onion, Sea Salt &  Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Sunflower Seeds
1/4 lb Cooked Shrimp
Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar
Directions:
1.  Chop all of the ingredients except the shrimp.  Mix in a large bowl with the iceberg lettuce.  Pull the tails off of the shrimp and top the mixed salad.
2.  Dress the salad with some chopped green onion, a sprinkle of sea salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.  Sprinkle w/ a teaspoon of Sunflower Seeds.  Drizzle w/ Strawberry (or plain) Balsamic Vinegar.

Loved this salad!  I am not a big fan of raw veggies, so my salads tend to rely on the heavier, less healthy items such as chicken, cheeses, croutons, nuts, etc.  This salad was the perfect combination of the “good” stuff & the “bad” stuff.  I don’t put oil on my salads when I use Vinegar, and trust me, you aren’t missing it.  The touch of salt and pepper enhances the flavors and makes everything delish!

As ginormous as this salad is, believe it or not, it only racks up FIVE Weight Watchers Points.  FIVE!  OMG!

Quick Beef & Yogurt Sauce

Along with my new Weight Watchers App comes a whole slew of new recipes to drool over.  You’d be surprised, there are so many that actually sound REALLY good.

I was on my own for dinner last night.  What to do?  My first instinct is to make something with Shrimp or Mushrooms (two of the only things Dave doesn’t eat!)  but this recipe came up on my WW app and it was calling out my name.

The best part about this recipe is that I only had to buy 1 thing from the market- fresh mint.  I’m sure you’ll be seeing some kind of fresh Mojito recipe or some other minty things coming soon!

Quick Beef & Yogurt Sauce

Recipe Adapted from:  Weight Watchers
Makes:  1 Cup Beef & 1/4 cup Yogurt Sauce per Serving (5 Points)
Ingredients:
1/2 lb uncooked 93% lean Ground Beef
1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
3/4 teaspoon Cumin
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt & 1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt, divided
1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper & 1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper, divided
1 cup Non-Fat Greek Yogurt, plain
1/2  cup Cucumber, diced
2 Tablespoons fresh Mint Leaves, chopped
Directions:
1.  Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat.  Add beef, garlic, cumin, 1/4 teaspoon salt & 1/8 teaspoon pepper.  Cook, stirring and chopping often until browned.  *You can use fresh or frozen beef.  I used frozen and shredded the cooked portion with 2 forks, and then flipped the patty over and repeated until it was completely chopped*
2.  In a small bowl, stir together Yogurt, Cucumber, 1/4 teaspoon Salt & 1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper.  Stir 1/2 of the Mint in also.
3.  Serve beef topped with yogurt sauce and sprinkled with remaining mint in a mini-whole wheat Pita or tortilla. (I used Thomas’ Pita Pockets, add 2 points)

The reviews on WW on this recipe complain that it’s not spicy enough or too plain.  Personally, I thought it was a nice break from my typical super-spicy meals.  I really liked this recipe, and had the 2nd serving for lunch!

This is what the app looks like! It’s so clean and nice.

In my adaptation of the recipe, I only made 1/2 the meat (instead of 4 servings) but made the full amount of sauce.  I definitely didn’t use the full 1/4 cup of the sauce for each of my servings but I wanted to have some leftover for dinner or lunch later this week.

MMM!

I also sauteed up some Yellow Squash to eat alongside this dish.  It was so yummy!  I cut up 2 squashes, sprayed a pan with Cooking Spray, and sprinkled with salt & pepper.  I let it cook over medium-high heat flipping occasionally until they became soft and browned on both sides.

Stelly found a dropped piece of Squash and ate it! She was guarding it so I wouldn’t take it away